Extending the Construct Network of Trait Disinhibition to the Neuroimaging Domain: Validation of a Bridging Scale for Use in the European IMAGEN Project

Assessment. 2019 Jun;26(4):567-581. doi: 10.1177/1073191118759748. Epub 2018 Mar 20.


Trait disinhibition, a clinical-liability construct, has well-established correlates in the diagnostic, self-rating, task-behavioral, and brain potential response domains. Recently, studies have begun to test for neuroimaging correlates of this liability factor, but more work of this type using larger data sets is needed to clarify its brain bases. The current study details the development and validation of a scale measure of trait disinhibition composed of questionnaire items available in the IMAGEN project, a large-scale longitudinal study of factors contributing to substance abuse that includes clinical interview, self-report personality, task-behavioral, neuroimaging, and genomic measures. Using a construct-rating and psychometric refinement approach, a scale was developed that evidenced: (a) positive relations with interview-assessed psychopathology in the IMAGEN sample, both concurrently and prospectively and (b) positive associations with scale measures of disinhibition and reported psychopathology, and a robust negative correlation with P3 brain response, in a separate adult sample ( Mage = 19.5). These findings demonstrate that a common scale measure can index this construct from adolescence through to early adulthood, and set the stage for systematic work directed at identifying neural and genetic biomarkers of this key liability construct using existing and future data from the IMAGEN project.

Keywords: IMAGEN; externalizing psychopathology; liability; neuroimaging; trait disinhibition.

Publication types

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