Neuroimaging studies have identified ongoing neural tissue development throughout adolescence and early adulthood. Increases in myelination and white matter (WM) integrity along with decreases in gray matter (GM) cortical thickness (e.g., pruning) are thought to strengthen synaptic connections and allow for efficient communication between brain regions. Adolescents are at increased risk for engaging in substance use behaviors, and problematic use often begins to peak during this developmental time period. The relationship between WM microstructural integrity and GM cortical thickness is only beginning to be explored in adolescent populations, with cross sectional studies showing relationships between substance misuse and both macrostructural and microstructural neural tissue status. Research has shown a large neurobiological component to risk taking behaviors during adolescence, however the link between the biological underpinnings of risky behaviors has not been clearly defined. It is possible that indices of WM integrity and GM cortical thickness used in conjunction will help us understand the predictive validity of two commonly used structural imaging measurements, particularly their utility in predicting future adolescent substance use. Therefore, this study will utilize diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and structural magnetic resonance imaging (sMRI) to examine the influence of WM integrity and GM cortical thickness on real world risk taking behaviors such as drug and alcohol use, measured over a 36-month interval in adolescents ages 16-18 at baseline. If empirical support exists for WM integrity and GM cortical thickness as predictors of substance use behaviors, these measures may be used to help identify teens at risk for substance use disorders.

Public Health Relevance

Understanding the brain features behind adolescent substance use will aid clinical assessment and help in design of prevention and intervention programs and strategies that limit risk taking opportunity and construct healthier outlets for teenagers. In the future, multi-domain risk taking assessment (e.g., brain imaging, personality) may be used to identify and guide high-risk teenagers, which could advantageously reduce disease transmission and costs to the healthcare and criminal justice system overall.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institute
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Type
Postdoctoral Individual National Research Service Award (F32)
Project #
5F32DA032188-02
Application #
8414183
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-F02A-J (20))
Program Officer
Sirocco, Karen
Project Start
2012-02-01
Project End
2015-01-31
Budget Start
2013-02-01
Budget End
2014-01-31
Support Year
2
Fiscal Year
2013
Total Cost
$49,214
Indirect Cost
Name
University of California San Diego
Department
Psychiatry
Type
Schools of Medicine
DUNS #
804355790
City
La Jolla
State
CA
Country
United States
Zip Code
92093
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Squeglia, Lindsay M; Jacobus, Joanna; Nguyen-Louie, Tam T et al. (2014) Inhibition during early adolescence predicts alcohol and marijuana use by late adolescence. Neuropsychology 28:782-90
Jacobus, Joanna; Squeglia, Lindsay M; Sorg, Scott F et al. (2014) Cortical thickness and neurocognition in adolescent marijuana and alcohol users following 28 days of monitored abstinence. J Stud Alcohol Drugs 75:729-43
Jacobus, Joanna; Tapert, Susan F (2014) Effects of cannabis on the adolescent brain. Curr Pharm Des 20:2186-93
Squeglia, Lindsay M; Jacobus, Joanna; Sorg, Scott F et al. (2013) Early adolescent cortical thinning is related to better neuropsychological performance. J Int Neuropsychol Soc 19:962-70
Squeglia, Lindsay M; McKenna, Benjamin S; Jacobus, Joanna et al. (2013) BOLD response to working memory not related to cortical thickness during early adolescence. Brain Res 1537:59-68
Bava, Sunita; Jacobus, Joanna; Thayer, Rachel E et al. (2013) Longitudinal changes in white matter integrity among adolescent substance users. Alcohol Clin Exp Res 37 Suppl 1:E181-9
Jacobus, Joanna; Squeglia, Lindsay M; Bava, Sunita et al. (2013) White matter characterization of adolescent binge drinking with and without co-occurring marijuana use: a 3-year investigation. Psychiatry Res 214:374-81
Jacobus, Joanna; Squeglia, Lindsay M; Infante, M Alejandra et al. (2013) White matter integrity pre- and post marijuana and alcohol initiation in adolescence. Brain Sci 3:396-414
Jacobus, Joanna; Tapert, Susan F (2013) Neurotoxic effects of alcohol in adolescence. Annu Rev Clin Psychol 9:703-21