This is a revised competing continuation application designed to follow-up on the major findings from our initial funding period and to investigate the cognitive and motivational mechanisms underlying behavioral disinhibition in early onset alcohol dependence (AD) and related co-morbid externalizing (EXT) and internalizing disorders. AD is a heterogeneous disorder with considerable variation in severity of symptoms, types and severity of co- morbid disorders, age of onset, and course. Research indicates a strong association between AD and various disinhibitory phenotypes, such as co-morbid EXT disorders, impulsive personality traits, and laboratory measures of behavioral disinhibition, which are associated with an early onset, more severe symptoms, and chronic course. However, much remains to be learned about the processes that contribute to, and explain the, (i) heterogeneity and co-morbidity in AD, and (ii) the specific mechanisms underlying behavioral disinhibition in AD and related EXT disorders. Several mechanisms contribute to behavioral disinhibition, yet we know little about how: 1. specific cognitive and motivational processes interact to affect poor decision-making, behavioral undercontrol, and specific decisions to drink in those with alcohol dependence, and 2. how these processes vary as a function of co-morbid psychopathology. Many studies of disinhibitory processes in AD are associational in nature, which limits our understanding of the specific mechanisms that contribute to self- regulatory deficits in those with AD. The proposed study uses a dimensional} factorial design to examine the impact of manipulating working memory load and reward magnitude on decision-making and behavioral inhibition in those with AD and EXT disorders. Utilizing manipulations of working memory load and reward magnitude is a more powerful approach to identifying the manner in which working memory, reward sensitivity, and punishment sensitivity interact and contribute to AD and EXT.
The first aim of this study is to use a dimensional model design to investigate disinhibitory processes associated with heterogeneity and co- morbidity of EXT in AD.
The second aim i s to more directly investigate the cognitive and motivational mechanisms underlying behavioral inhibition deficits in AD / EXT by directly manipulating WM load and magnitude of reward on different laboratory tasks.
The third aim i s to more directly assess the motivational /disinhibitory factors that influence decisions to drink in those with AD, and other EXT disorders. This study will build upon our knowledge of the mechanisms underlying impaired decision-making and behavioral disinhibition in those with AD and related EXT disorders problems. The project attempts to clarify the relevance of these mechanisms for decisions to drink in young adults, and shed light on the potential role that these mechanisms have in the heterogeneity in AD. Such knowledge will be valuable for the prevention and treatment of alcohol problems in young adults.

Public Health Relevance

This is a study of the cognitive and motivational mechanisms in alcohol dependence (AD) and related externalizing (EXT) disorders. The project will provide information about the specific mechanisms that contribute to AD and related EXT disorders, which will be valuable for prevention and treatment efforts.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Research Project (R01)
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Application #
Study Section
Adult Psychopathology and Disorders of Aging Study Section (APDA)
Program Officer
Witt, Ellen
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Indiana University Bloomington
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Endres, Michael J; Donkin, Chris; Finn, Peter R (2014) An information processing/associative learning account of behavioral disinhibition in externalizing psychopathology. Exp Clin Psychopharmacol 22:122-32
Gunn, Rachel L; Finn, Peter R; Endres, Michael J et al. (2013) Dimensions of disinhibited personality and their relation with alcohol use and problems. Addict Behav 38:2352-60
Fridberg, Daniel J; Gerst, Kyle R; Finn, Peter R (2013) Effects of working memory load, a history of conduct disorder, and sex on decision making in substance dependent individuals. Drug Alcohol Depend 133:654-60
Gunn, Rachel L; Finn, Peter R (2013) Impulsivity partially mediates the association between reduced working memory capacity and alcohol problems. Alcohol 47:3-8
Bogg, Tim; Fukunaga, Rena; Finn, Peter R et al. (2012) Cognitive control links alcohol use, trait disinhibition, and reduced cognitive capacity: Evidence for medial prefrontal cortex dysregulation during reward-seeking behavior. Drug Alcohol Depend 122:112-8
Endres, Michael J; Rickert, Martin E; Bogg, Tim et al. (2011) Externalizing psychopathology and behavioral disinhibition: working memory mediates signal discriminability and reinforcement moderates response bias in approach-avoidance learning. J Abnorm Psychol 120:336-51
Bogg, Tim; Finn, Peter R (2010) A self-regulatory model of behavioral disinhibition in late adolescence: integrating personality traits, externalizing psychopathology, and cognitive capacity. J Pers 78:441-70
Zernicke, Kristin A; Cantrell, Hope; Finn, Peter R et al. (2010) The association between earlier age of first drink, disinhibited personality, and externalizing psychopathology in young adults. Addict Behav 35:414-8
Bobova, Lyuba; Finn, Peter R; Rickert, Martin E et al. (2009) Disinhibitory psychopathology and delay discounting in alcohol dependence: personality and cognitive correlates. Exp Clin Psychopharmacol 17:51-61
Bogg, Tim; Finn, Peter R (2009) An ecologically based model of alcohol-consumption decision making: evidence for the discriminative and predictive role of contextual reward and punishment information. J Stud Alcohol Drugs 70:446-57

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