This application describes the contribution of the OHSU site to the data collection efforts of the consortium entitled, Tracking Ethanol's Effects on Neurodevelopment (TEEN), and the specific focus of the OHSU site on examining how alcohol impacts functional connectivity in the developing brain and whether connectivity patterns can be used to predict risk for alcoholism. It is well-established that adolescence is a time of dramatic maturation in the brain, paralleled by improvements in executive abilities, social functioning, and emotional regulation. More recently, it has become appreciated that functional network dynamics of the brain, subserving these improvements, also dramatically change over the adolescent years. This period of heightened plasticity coincides with greater vulnerability to neurotoxic alcohol effects, such that heavy alcohol exposure during adolescence may result in disruption to normally occurring maturation of neural circuitry. To examine this question, the approach of the TEEN consortium will be to disproportionately recruit individuals who are at elevated risk for alcohol use, based on personality features. This approach was chosen to ensure sufficient numbers of individuals who will transition from no use to use within the duration of this project, and also ensures sufficient numbers of individuals who are already drinking thereby enabling cross-sectional comparisons to complement the longitudinal studies. Using a sequential cohort design, the TEEN consortium will recruit 750 youth, stratified across three age-ranges: 12-15 years, 15-18 years, and 18-21 years, with each site recruiting and following 150 youth. A standardized set of neuroimaging, cognitive, and clinical assessments will be included and administered at baseline and at three one-year follow-ups. The major aims of the OHSU site proposal are toward understanding the influence of alcohol on adolescent brain circuitry and at delineating risk-related abnormalities in developing adolescent brain networks using multi-modal integration. Understanding the neural phenotypes associated with increased risk for alcoholism and the potentially deleterious impact of alcohol on the neural connections in the adolescent brain could aid in the development of targeted strategies aimed at reducing adolescent alcohol drinking behaviors.
The present study seeks to investigate the effect of adolescent drinking on the functional connectivity of the brain and determine whether patterns of connectivity can predict risk for heavy alcohol consumption. Isolating the effects of alcohol use and identifying risk markers is necessary to develop specifically targeted prevention and intervention strategies for youth.
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