Understanding the neurobiological and psychosocial factors that are associated with early drug abuse requires better knowledge of specific subtypes of adolescent drug abusers, including those who have underlying callous-unemotional traits and serious conduct disorder (CU-CD). Youth with CU-CD are on a trajectory toward psychopathic personality in adulthood and drug addiction, crime, and violent behavior. They have more severe drug use and an earlier onset than other adolescent drug abusers, and therefore may have a neurobiology and reward system that is non-selectively activated to any drugs of abuse. There may be a need for treatment and prevention strategies tailored for CU-CD youth. The Candidate proposes a five-year K01 career development plan to launch an independent research career that focuses on the CU-CD population and blending neuropsychological and personality assessments with neuroimaging to better understand the early trajectory towards drug addiction to inform treatment for this population. The training plan includes mentored experience and coursework to increase knowledge in research on drug abuse and treatment, drug craving methodology, the neurobiology of development, and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) methods. The research projects (conducted in two settings) will examine the presence of neurocognitive and affective processing abnormalities in CU-CD youth with co-morbid stimulant abuse/dependence, relative to non-CU-CD youth with stimulant abuse/dep and controls, in response to craving tasks. This application integrates the candidate's background in assessment of CU-CD in adolescents and longitudinal studies of their chronic antisociality with a mentor team experienced in neuroimaging: Drs. Jean King and Jean Frazier at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS), and Dr. Kent Kiehl at the University of New Mexico and the Mental Illness and Neuroscience Discovery (MIND) Research Network. UMMS and the MIND have unique resources;including, a 3T magnet for human fMRI research, a craving laboratory, a large adolescent addiction treatment population and community network, and a mobile 1.5T fMRI system with access to a serious young offender population in a correctional facility.

Public Health Relevance

The relevance to public health will be to better understand this problem and how to adapt treatments for CU-CD youth, including ways to increase translational research through new studies. Better understanding the neurobiological and psychosocial factors affecting CU-CD youth should help the addiction, mental health, and justice system to have both an immediate and long term effect on reducing drug addiction.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Research Scientist Development Award - Research & Training (K01)
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Human Development Research Subcommittee (NIDA)
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Sirocco, Karen
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University of Massachusetts Medical School Worcester
Schools of Medicine
United States
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