Pathways to Youth Behavior: The Role of Genetic, Neural, and Behavioral Markers

J Res Adolesc. 2018 Mar;28(1):26-39. doi: 10.1111/jora.12341.


Neural and temperamental mechanisms through which a genetic risk marker in the γ-amino butyric acid α2 receptor subunit (GABRA2) impacts adolescent functioning were investigated. Participants (N = 80; 29 female) completed an emotional word task during functional magnetic resonance imaging. Behavioral control, negative emotionality, and resiliency temperament constructs were assessed. Externalizing and internalizing problems were the outcomes. Those with the GABRA2 minor allele had reduced activation to positive words in the angular gyrus, middle temporal gyrus, and cerebellum, and to negative words in frontal, parietal, and occipital cortices. Reduced activation in the angular gyrus predicted greater negative emotionality and, in turn, elevated externalizing problems. Reduced activation in the inferior parietal cortex predicted greater resiliency and, in turn, low externalizing problems.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / physiology*
  • Alcoholism / psychology
  • Alleles
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Defense Mechanisms
  • Emotions / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Negotiating / psychology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Receptors, GABA-A / genetics*
  • Risk Factors
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Temperament / physiology


  • GABRA2 protein, human
  • Receptors, GABA-A