The current research proposal seeks to provide an improved estimate of cognitive decline associated with methamphetamine (MA) dependence by creating """"""""discrepancy scores"""""""" which consist of the difference between expected cognitive performance and current performance on a cognitive battery. Expected cognitive performance will be estimated in MA-dependent and healthy control subjects using demographic variables, pre-morbid estimation procedures, and participants'school records prior to the initiation of drug abuse. We will then determine the neuroanatomical and behavioral predictors of discrepancy scores in MA-dependent subjects. Behavioral predictors will include drug abuse variables, demographic variables, and psychosocial factors, while neuroanatomical predictors will consist of gray matter and white matter measurements identified from automated and semi-automated analysis of structural MRI data (e.g., VBM and DTI). Identifying predictors of discrepancy scores will implicate risk factors for cognitive decline in MA dependence. The candidate has a background in clinical neuropsychology and he seeks two primary training goals from this award: 1) learn structural neuroimaging techniques, and 2) become an expert in substance abuse, particularly MA abuse. The candidate's work environment at the UCLA Laboratory of Molecular Neuroimaging provides an impeccable infrastructure for being trained in neuroimaging and substance abuse, and he will be mentored and consulted by renowned experts in these areas. The lab has several grant-funded, ongoing studies in MA dependence with strong ties to the Brain Mapping Center and the inpatient General Clinical Research Center (GCRC). As part of training, the candidate will attend several courses and workshops in foundational neuroimaging topics (programming, statistics, image acquisition, neuroanatomy) and more advanced neuroimaging topics (e.g., DTI interpretation), as well as courses in the biological and psychiatric bases of substance abuse. He will also attend annual conferences in substance abuse (CPDD) and neuroimaging (e.g., Human Brain Mapping), and meet with mentors regularly. The candidate plans to submit for a R01 grant toward the end of the award period. Long term, he plans to found an independent research career examining the relationship between brain structure and behavior in substance abuse.

Public Health Relevance

Individuals who are dependent on methamphetamine (MA) have been found to have cognitive difficulties, but the extent to which these difficulties are attributable to MA consumption is unclear. The current project seeks to improve the measurement of cognitive decline associated with MA dependence, and identify risk factors for this decline. Knowledge of risk factors for cognitive decline can be used to assist prevention and treatment efforts.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award (K23)
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Study Section
Human Development Research Subcommittee (NIDA)
Program Officer
Bjork, James M
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University of California Los Angeles
Schools of Medicine
Los Angeles
United States
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Okita, K; Morales, A M; Dean, A C et al. (2018) Striatal dopamine D1-type receptor availability: no difference from control but association with cortical thickness in methamphetamine users. Mol Psychiatry 23:1320-1327
Dean, Andy C; Morales, Angelica M; Hellemann, Gerhard et al. (2018) Cognitive deficit in methamphetamine users relative to childhood academic performance: link to cortical thickness. Neuropsychopharmacology 43:1745-1752
Okita, Kyoji; Petersen, Nicole; Robertson, Chelsea L et al. (2016) Sex Differences in Midbrain Dopamine D2-Type Receptor Availability and Association with Nicotine Dependence. Neuropsychopharmacology 41:2913-2919
Kohno, M; Okita, K; Morales, A M et al. (2016) Midbrain functional connectivity and ventral striatal dopamine D2-type receptors: link to impulsivity in methamphetamine users. Mol Psychiatry 21:1554-1560
Jones, Hannah W; Dean, Andy C; Price, Kimberly A et al. (2016) Increased self-reported impulsivity in methamphetamine users maintaining drug abstinence. Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse 42:500-506
Okita, Kyoji; Ghahremani, Dara G; Payer, Doris E et al. (2016) Emotion dysregulation and amygdala dopamine D2-type receptor availability in methamphetamine users. Drug Alcohol Depend 161:163-70
Ballard, Michael E; Dean, Andy C; Mandelkern, Mark A et al. (2015) Striatal Dopamine D2/D3 Receptor Availability Is Associated with Executive Function in Healthy Controls but Not Methamphetamine Users. PLoS One 10:e0143510
Dean, Andy C; Kohno, Milky; Morales, Angelica M et al. (2015) Denial in methamphetamine users: Associations with cognition and functional connectivity in brain. Drug Alcohol Depend 151:84-91
Dean, Andy C; Kohno, Milky; Hellemann, Gerhard et al. (2014) Childhood maltreatment and amygdala connectivity in methamphetamine dependence: a pilot study. Brain Behav 4:867-76
Dean, Andy C; Altstein, Lily L; Berman, Mitchell E et al. (2013) Secondary Psychopathy, but not Primary Psychopathy, is Associated with Risky Decision-Making in Noninstitutionalized Young Adults. Pers Individ Dif 54:272-277

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