Author(s): Schweinsburg AD, McQueeny T, Nagel BJ, Eyler LT, Tapert SF
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Abstract Binge alcohol use is common among teenagers with 28\% of 12th graders reporting getting drunk in the past month. Chronic heavy drinking has been associated with verbal learning and memory deficits in adolescents and adults, yet verbal encoding in less frequently drinking teens has not yet been studied. Here, we examined functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) response during verbal encoding among adolescent binge drinkers. Participants recruited from local high schools were of ages 16-18 and consisted of 12 binge drinkers and 12 demographically similar nondrinkers. Participants were all nonsmokers, and drinkers were abstinent from alcohol for an average of 33 days at the time of scanning. Participants performed a verbal paired associates learning task during fMRI acquisition. Drinkers recalled marginally fewer words than nondrinkers (P=.07). Compared with nondrinkers, bingers showed more response in right superior frontal and bilateral posterior parietal cortices but less response in occipital cortex during novel encoding (Ps<.05, clusters >1,512microL). In addition, controls showed significant activation in the left hippocampus during novel encoding, whereas binge drinkers did not. Adolescent binge drinkers demonstrated (1) more response than nondrinkers in frontal and parietal regions, which could suggest greater engagement of working memory systems during encoding; (2) no hippocampal activation to novel word pairs; and (3) slightly poorer word pair recall, which could indicate disadvantaged processing of novel verbal information and a slower learning slope. Longitudinal studies will be needed to ascertain the degree to which emergence of binge drinking is linked temporally to these brain response patterns. 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
This article was published in Alcohol
and referenced in Journal of Antivirals & Antiretrovirals