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What drives a child to abuse alcohol?
Date:7/9/2014

This news release is available in French.

By looking at 40 different factors in 14 year old teens, including brain structure and function, personality, life experiences and genetics, researchers can predict with 70% accuracy who will go on to develop binge drinking within the next two years. Impulsivity, hopelessness, sensation-seeking traits, lack of conscientiousness, and other variables such as life events and a family history of drug use contribute to the likelihood of binge drinking. Whether or not the child had had a single drink at age 14 was a particularly powerful predictor, the researchers found. Slightly over 40% of North American 13 and 14 year olds have used alcohol, while 10% of Quebec high school students graduate from high school with substance use problems. The study was driven by the IMAGEN consortium, a European research project on risk taking behaviour in teenagers. Patricia Conrod of the University of Montreal and CHU Sainte-Justine Hospital Research Centre designed the original assessment battery and the participant recruitment strategy for the IMAGEN study. She also developed the brief personality scale that was shown to be highly predictive of drinking at 14 and 16 years of age. The first and senior authors of the research article are affiliated with the University of Vermont, University College Dublin, and Trinity College Dublin.

In total, 2,400 European 14 year olds participated in the IMAGEN study. In addition to providing information about their life events, their psychological profile and their substance use, the children underwent an MRI as they played a game (to measure their brains responses to rewards) and were shown angry faces (to measure their emotional reactivity.) The team found that the right middle and precentral gyri and bilateral
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Contact: William Raillant-Clark
w.raillant-clark@umontreal.ca
514-343-7593
University of Montreal
Source:Eurekalert

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