Abstract: Moment-to-moment reaction time variability on tasks of attention, often quantified by intra-individual response variability (IRV), provides a good indication of the degree to which an individual is vulnerable to lapses in sustained attention. Increased IRV is a hallmark of several disorders of attention, including Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Here, task-based fMRI was used to provide the first examination of how average brain activation and functional connectivity patterns in adolescents are related to individual differences in sustained attention as measured by IRV. We computed IRV in a large sample of adolescents (n = 758) across 'Go' trials of a Stop Signal Task (SST). A data-driven, multi-step analysis approach was used to identify networks associated with low IRV (i.e., good sustained attention) and high IRV (i.e., poorer sustained attention). Low IRV was associated with greater functional segregation (i.e., stronger negative connectivity) amongst an array of brain networks, particularly between cerebellum and motor, cerebellum and prefrontal, and occipital and motor networks. In contrast, high IRV was associated with stronger positive connectivity within the motor network bilaterally and between motor and parietal, prefrontal, and limbic networks. Consistent with these observations, a separate sample of adolescents exhibiting elevated ADHD symptoms had increased fMRI activation and stronger positive connectivity within the same motor network denoting poorer sustained attention, compared to a matched asymptomatic control sample. With respect to the functional connectivity signature of low IRV, there were no statistically significant differences in networks denoting good sustained attention between the ADHD symptom group and asymptomatic control group. We propose that sustained attentional processes are facilitated by an array of neural networks working together, and provide an empirical account of how the functional role of the cerebellum extends to cognition in adolescents. This work highlights the involvement of motor cortex in the integrity of sustained attention, and suggests that atypically strong connectivity within motor networks characterizes poor attentional capacity in both typically developing and ADHD symptomatic adolescents.
Abstract: Background and Aims
Dysfunction in brain regions underlying impulse control, reward processing and executive function have been associated previously with adolescent alcohol misuse. However, identifying pre‐existing neurobiological risk factors, as distinct from changes arising from early alcohol‐use, is difficult. Here, we outline how neuroimaging data can identify the neural predictors of adolescent alcohol‐use initiation and misuse by using prospective longitudinal studies to follow initially alcohol‐naive individuals over time and by neuroimaging adolescents with inherited risk factors for alcohol misuse.
A comprehensive narrative of the literature regarding neuroimaging studies published between 2010 and 2016 focusing on predictors of adolescent alcohol use initiation and misuse.
Prospective, longitudinal neuroimaging studies have identified pre‐existing differences between adolescents who remained alcohol‐naive and those who transitioned subsequently to alcohol use. Both functional and structural grey matter differences were observed in temporal and frontal regions, including reduced brain activity in the superior frontal gyrus and temporal lobe, and thinner temporal cortices of future alcohol users. Interactions between brain function and genetic predispositions have been identified, including significant association found between the Ras protein‐specific guanine nucleotide releasing factor 2 (RASGRF2) gene and reward‐related striatal functioning.
Neuroimaging predictors of alcohol use have shown modest utility to date. Future research should use out‐of‐sample performance as a quantitative measure of a predictor's utility. Neuroimaging data should be combined across multiple modalities, including structural information such as volumetrics and cortical thickness, in conjunction with white‐matter tractography. A number of relevant neurocognitive systems should be assayed; particularly, inhibitory control, reward processing and executive functioning. Combining a rich magnetic resonance imaging data set could permit the generation of neuroimaging risk scores, which could potentially yield targeted interventions.
Abstract: Substance misusers, including adolescent smokers, often have reduced reward system activity during processing of non-drug rewards. Using a psychophysiological interaction approach, we examined functional connectivity with the ventral striatum during reward anticipation in a large (N = 206) sample of adolescent smokers. Increased smoking frequency was associated with (1) increased connectivity with regions involved in saliency and valuation, including the orbitofrontal cortex and (2) reduced connectivity between the ventral striatum and regions associated with inhibition and risk aversion, including the right inferior frontal gyrus. These results demonstrate that functional connectivity during reward processing is relevant to adolescent addiction.