Increased forebrain activations in youths with family histories of alcohol and other substance use disorders performing a Go/NoGo task

Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2014 Dec;38(12):2944-51. doi: 10.1111/acer.12571. Epub 2014 Nov 18.


Background: Youths with a family history of alcohol and other drug use disorders (FH+) are at a greater risk of developing substance use disorders than their peers with no such family histories (FH-), and this increased risk may be related to impaired maturation of forebrain circuitry. FH+ individuals have shown altered forebrain activity at rest and while performing cognitive tasks. However, it is not fully understood how forebrain activity is altered in FH+ individuals, and ultimately how these alterations may contribute to substance use disorder risk.

Methods: In this study, we tested 72 FH+ and 32 FH- youths performing a go/no-go task and examined activations in blocks with only go trials (Go Only), blocks with 50% go and 50% no-go trials (Go/NoGo), and a contrast of those 2 blocks.

Results: FH+ youths had significantly greater cerebral activations in both the Go and Go/NoGo blocks than FH- youths in regions including the posterior cingulate/precuneus, bilateral middle/superior temporal gyrus, and medial superior frontal gyrus with no significant group differences in the subtraction between Go Only and Go/NoGo blocks. Additionally, FH+ youths had moderately slower reaction times on go trials in the Go Only blocks.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that global activation increase in FH+ youths are modulated by FH density and are not specific to the inhibitory components of the task. This pattern of increased activations in FH+ youths may be at least partially due to impaired forebrain white matter development leading to greater activations/less efficient neural communication during task performance.

Keywords: Family History; Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging; Go/No-Go; Risk; Substance Use.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Alcoholism / diagnosis
  • Alcoholism / metabolism
  • Alcoholism / psychology
  • Brain Mapping / methods
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Photic Stimulation / methods*
  • Prosencephalon / metabolism*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / diagnosis
  • Substance-Related Disorders / metabolism*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology*