3 years ago

College Binge Drinking Associated with Decreased Frontal Activation to Negative Emotional Distractors during Inhibitory Control.

Oot, Silveri, Nickerson, Cohen-Gilbert, Sneider, Seraikas, Rohan
The transition to college is associated with an increase in heavy episodic alcohol use, or binge drinking, during a time when the prefrontal cortex and prefrontal-limbic circuitry continue to mature. Traits associated with this immaturity, including impulsivity in emotional contexts, may contribute to risky and heavy episodic alcohol consumption. The current study used blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) multiband functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to assess brain activation during a task that required participants to ignore background images with positive, negative, or neutral emotional valence while performing an inhibitory control task (Go-NoGo). Subjects were 23 college freshmen (seven male, 18-20 years) who engaged in a range of drinking behavior (past 3 months' binge episodes range = 0-19, mean = 4.6, total drinks consumed range = 0-104, mean = 32.0). Brain activation on inhibitory trials (NoGo) was contrasted between negative and neutral conditions and between positive and neutral conditions using non-parametric testing (5000 permutations) and cluster-based thresholding (z = 2.3), p ≤ 0.05 corrected. Results showed that a higher recent incidence of binge drinking was significantly associated with decreased activation of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (DMPFC), and anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), brain regions strongly implicated in executive functioning, during negative relative to neutral inhibitory trials. No significant associations between binge drinking and brain activation were observed for positive relative to neutral images. While task performance was not significantly associated with binge drinking in this sample, subjects with heavier recent binge drinking showed decreased recruitment of executive control regions under negative versus neutral distractor conditions. These findings suggest that in young adults with heavier recent binge drinking, processing of negative emotional images interferes more with inhibitory control neurocircuitry than in young adults who do not binge drink often. This pattern of altered frontal lobe activation associated with binge drinking may serve as an early marker of risk for future self-regulation deficits that could lead to problematic alcohol use. These findings underscore the importance of understanding the impact of emotion on cognitive control and associated brain functioning in binge drinking behaviors among young adults.

Publisher URL: http://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01650

DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01650

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