There is mounting evidence from behavioral and neuroimaging studies that specific impairments in executive functioning are key hallmarks of the initiation and maintenance of Substance Use Disorders (SUD). This proposal is for a Pilot neuroimaging study which aims to determine the feasibility and establish parameters for a Full-Scale study which will investigate the behavioral and neural correlates of decision making and cognitive control in order to identify markers of vulnerability to Substance Use Disorders (SUDs). We propose a collaboration involving a highly accomplished interdisciplinary team including child psychiatric epidemiology, neuroimaging, decision science, child and adolescent neuropsychiatry, and substance use disorders researchers. This Pilot study draws on two ongoing longitudinal psychiatric epidemiological studies (N=1,120), one of mothers involved with the criminal justice system (CJS) (N=580;5RO1 DA23733: Maternal Incarceration and Course of Child Psychopathology: PI: Hoven) and another of fathers involved with the criminal justice system and their children (N=580;5R01DA024029;Paternal Criminal Justice Involvement and Substance Use in Children &Adolescents: PI: Hoven)). Each study has a matched child control based on age and gender. The proposed Pilot study will recruit mothers and fathers with and without SUD and their 12 - 15 year old children (total N=48). In parent-child dyads, we will examine three domains in which there is evidence for deficits in SUD individuals: 1) cognitive control over emotional conflict, as measured by the Emotional Conflict Resolution Task, 2) cognitive control in intertemporal choices, as measured by the Intertemporal Choice Task, and 3) decision making under risk, as measured by the Columbia Card Task. By using these tasks together, and studying parents and their children simultaneously, we will be able to thoroughly characterize multilevel decisional profiles and their underlying neurocircuitry that might differentiate parents with and without SUD, and children with positive and negative family histories of SUD. Therefore, findings from this research could have significant impact on future strategies for early identification of vulnerable adolescents, and for developing preventive and treatment interventions for SUD based on specific neurobehavioral mechanisms.
This Pilot is designed to provide the basis of conducting a full scale investigation that will allow for the advancement of science by examining the relationship between decision making, SUD and adolescent brain circuitry, through brain imaging and epidemiology, building upon a large, longitudinal investigation of parents involved with the criminal justice system and their children.