Although emotion-based dispositions toward rash action have shown to be uniquely predictive of increased alcohol consumption and increased alcohol-related problems, research has yet to determine (1) the neurobiological and cognitive mechanisms by which emotion-based impulsivity predicts increased alcohol consumption and problems and (2) that these behaviors actually occur in response to emotional manipulation, as predicted by the traits. Positive urgency (PUR) and negative urgency (NUR) are personality traits that relate to an individual's tendency to act rashly in response to extreme positive and negative mood states, respectively;these traits predict increased alcohol consumption and problems associated with alcohol use. For example, individuals high in PUR/NUR are at a greater risk to drink (or participate in some other risk-taking behavior) in response to a positive event (such as getting a raise at work or an important sports win) or a negative event (such as a romantic breakup, a failed exam, or a fight with family). The overall objective of this research project is to examine the brain system activation and lab-based alcohol use of individuals high in urgency and examine the effect of these factors on risk for increased alcohol consumption and alcohol-related problems, as part of the examination of my model of risk. The central hypotheses of this project are: (1) Individuals high in NUR will be more responsive to reward cues, as manifested by increased medial prefrontal activation from alcoholic drink aromas (see Kareken et al., 2010) after a negative mood induction than pre-mood induction;(2) Individuals high in PUR will show increased medial prefrontal activation in response to alcohol aromas after a positive mood induction than pre-mood induction, (3) The relationship between mood and increased prefrontal activation will be mediated by alcohol expectancies activation, and (4) induced mood states will lead to increased self-administration of alcohol as moderated by the urgency traits and mediated by alcohol expectancies. After completing these projects, there will be a better understanding of specific neurobiological underpinnings that are involved in urgent action and of specific expectancy activation that mediate the relationship between urgency and risky alcohol consumption. I expect that this understanding will allow for greater specificity in designing treatments by helping to understand which individuals are most cue-responsive, as well as paving the way toward an R01 application to determine if treatments can assist such individuals in managing cognitive strategies.
The use of alcohol during extreme emotional states has been shown to predict increased levels of alcohol consumption and alcohol-related problems in young adult populations. This project will contribute to our understanding of the risk processes for alcohol use involvement among young adults, which will have value for: (a) understanding which individuals are at greatest risk for alcohol abuse and (b) developing effective prevention programs.
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