Abnormal affective decision making revealed in adolescent binge drinkers using a functional magnetic resonance imaging study

Lin XIAO, Antoine BECHARA, Qiyong GONG, Xiaoqi HUANG, Xiangrui LI, Gui XUE, Wai Ho Savio WONG, Zhong-Lin LU, Paula PALMER, Yonglan WEI, Yong JIA, C. Anderson JOHNSON

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Abstract

The goal of this study was to investigate the neural correlates of affective decision making, as measured by the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT), which are associated with adolescent binge drinking. Fourteen adolescent binge drinkers (16–18 years of age) and 14 age-matched adolescents who had never consumed alcohol—never drinkers—were recruited from local high schools in Chengdu, China. Questionnaires were used to assess academic performance, drinking experience, and urgency. Brain regions activated by the IGT performance were identified with functional magnetic resonance imaging. Results showed that, compared to never drinkers, binge drinkers performed worse on the IGT and showed higher activity in the subcomponents of the decision-making neural circuitry implicated in the execution of emotional and incentive-related behaviors, namely, the left amygdala and insula bilaterally. Moreover, measures of the severity of drinking problems in real life, as well as high urgency scores, were associated with increased activity within the insula, combined with decreased activity within the orbitofrontal cortex. These results suggest that hyperreactivity of a neural system implicated in the execution of emotional and incentive-related behaviors can be associated with socially undesirable behaviors, such as binge drinking, among adolescents. These findings have social implications because they potentially reveal underlying neural mechanisms for making poor decisions, which may increase an individual’s risk and vulnerability for alcoholism. Copyright © 2012 American Psychological Association.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)443-454
JournalPsychology of Addictive Behaviors
Volume27
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013

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Gambling
Binge Drinking
Decision Making
Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Drinking
Motivation
Task Performance and Analysis
Amygdala
Prefrontal Cortex
Alcoholism
China
Brain

Bibliographical note

Xiao, L., Gong, Q., Huang, X., Wong, S., Palmer, P., Bechara, A., et al. (2013). Abnormal affective decision making revealed in adolescent binge drinkers using a functional magnetic resonance imaging study. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 27(2), 443-454.

Keywords

  • Iowa gambling task
  • Adolescence
  • Insula
  • Urgency
  • Drinking