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Review
. 2010 Dec;20(4):398-413.
doi: 10.1007/s11065-010-9146-6. Epub 2010 Oct 19.

Adolescent Brain Development and the Risk for Alcohol and Other Drug Problems

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Free PMC article
Review

Adolescent Brain Development and the Risk for Alcohol and Other Drug Problems

Sunita Bava et al. Neuropsychol Rev. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

Dynamic changes in neurochemistry, fiber architecture, and tissue composition occur in the adolescent brain. The course of these maturational processes is being charted with greater specificity, owing to advances in neuroimaging and indicate grey matter volume reductions and protracted development of white matter in regions known to support complex cognition and behavior. Though fronto-subcortical circuitry development is notable during adolescence, asynchronous maturation of prefrontal and limbic systems may render youth more vulnerable to risky behaviors such as substance use. Indeed, binge-pattern alcohol consumption and comorbid marijuana use are common among adolescents, and are associated with neural consequences. This review summarizes the unique characteristics of adolescent brain development, particularly aspects that predispose individuals to reward seeking and risky choices during this phase of life, and discusses the influence of substance use on neuromaturation. Together, findings in this arena underscore the importance of refined research and programming efforts in adolescent health and interventional needs.

Figures

Fig. 1
Fig. 1
Clusters of significant change in the superior longitudinal fasciculus over time in adolescents age 17.5 to 19 (≥153 μl, p < .01; N = 22) (Bava et al. a, b). Results are superimposed on a fiber skeleton (blue) and overlaid on a standardized template. Images are in radiological convention
Fig. 2
Fig. 2
Adolescents with histories of binge drinking show lower fractional anisotropy (FA) in the left and right superior corona radiata as compared to those with no history of binge drinking. Further, FA values here were linearly linked to blood alcohol concentrations reached in the previous 3 months, with more intense drinking linked to more abnormal white matter coherence in this dorsal frontal tract (McQueeny et al. 2009)

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