The overarching goal of the Developmental Psychopathology Module is to elucidate the psychopathological precursors and concomitants of substance use disorder (SUD) and their ontogenetic connections. Building on extensive research conducted to date, we propose in the next 5 years to prospectively examine the influences on developmentally specific manifestations of psychological dysregulation and adulthood SUD outcomes. Among characteristics manifested as psychopathology in childhood and adolescence, disruptive behavior disorders have been demonstrated most clearly to predispose to illicit drug use and SUD. Using contemporary psychometric methods, the project will develop a construct indicated by childhood disruptive behavior disorder symptoms, termed Behavioral Undercontrol (BU). This construct is conceptualized as reflecting a persistent trait with developmentally specific manifestations. The indicators of this dimension are collected from parents as well as offspring, and transmission of BU from parent to child will be studied. The research will identify psychopathological precursors of SUD in late childhood and adolescence, and will determine the mediating and moderating influences in the transition from adolescence to adulthood that portend SUD diagnoses resulting from illicit drug use. The Module will determine the influences of BU, in the context of parenting practices and peer selection, on adolescent substance use trajectories and SUDs. In young adulthood, we will examine frontal white matter organization as a neuromaturation outcome indicator. We will examine the influence of frontal white matter organization on laboratory indicators of decision-making competence. We hypothesize that childhood BU and adolescent substance use will predict white matter dysmaturation and associated deficits in decision-making competence in young adulthood, leading to severe and persistent SUDs consequent to illicit drugs.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Specialized Center (P50)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZDA1)
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University of Pittsburgh
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