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WSU researches patterns of heavy alcohol use and life commitments in at-risk young adults
Date:5/8/2012

ated such associations.

"Here we're looking at whether commitment to school, work or a romantic relationship predicts, decreases or even buffers against problems for people who, through personality or reduced cognitive capacity, might be at risk for excessive alcohol consumption," Bogg said.

Over two and a half years, researchers will examine patterns of change associated with social investment. The study also will track the interaction of brain activity and personality traits over time something very few researchers have tried, Bogg said.

A subset of subjects representing a full spectrum of alcohol consumption will complete a computerized balloon inflation task to examine reward-seeking cognitive control. The task requires subjects to decide whether to continue inflating a balloon based on an increasing wager amount. As in real life, the balloon can be overinflated and explode, resulting in a lost wager.

During the task, a magnetic resonance imaging scanner will be used to look at the medial prefrontal cortex of subjects' brains, an area thought to be involved in risk and reward appraisal, as well as performance monitoring, which involves updating future responses based on past outcomes.

"The idea is to see whether there are differences in brain activity depending on alcohol consumption and related levels of conscientiousness, social investment and cognitive ability," Bogg said. "We're also trying to see if we can predict change. The real question is, how do these things influence each other over time?"

The amount of engagement or involvement in normative roles might act as a buffer against alcohol abuse or dependence, he said. Many Wayne State students tend to have more outside commitments than participants in his previous study, and Bogg expects that to be reflected in the results.

The current study also aims to use the data to develop interventions that can help foster maturation by increasing norm
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Contact: Julie O'Connor
julie.oconnor@wayne.edu
313-577-8845
Wayne State University - Office of the Vice President for Research
Source:Eurekalert

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