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Saturday, September 7, 2013

Neural Correlates of Impulsivity in Healthy Males and Females with Family Histories of Alcoholism

Individuals family-history positive (FHP) for alcoholism have increased risk for the disorder, which may be mediated by intermediate behavioral traits such as impulsivity. Given the sex differences in the risk for and clinical presentation of addictive disorders, risk for addiction may be differentially mediated by impulsivity within FHP males and females.

FHP (N=28) and family-history negative (FHN, N=31) healthy, non-substance-abusing adults completed an fMRI Go/No-Go task and were assessed on impulsivity and alcohol use. Effects of family history and sex were investigated as were associations between neural correlates of impulse control and out-of-scanner measures of impulsivity and alcohol use.

FHP individuals showed greater activation in the left anterior insula and inferior frontal gyrus during successful inhibitions, an effect that was driven primarily by FHP males. Higher self-reported impulsivity and behavioral discounting impulsivity, but not alcohol use measures, were associated with greater BOLD signal in the region that differentiated the FHP and FHN groups. Impulsivity factors were associated with alcohol use measures across the FHP and FHN groups.

These findings are consistent with increased risk for addiction among FHP individuals being conferred through disrupted function within neural systems important for impulse control.

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