Multimodal indicators of risk for and consequences of substance use disorders: Executive functions and trait disconstraint assessed from preadolescence into early adulthood

Sylia Wilson, Stephen M. Malone, Noah C. Venables, Matt McGue, William G. Iacono

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Risk for substance use disorders (SUDs) is hypothesized to include behavioral disinhibition, a genetically mediated inability to inhibit or regulate behavior given task demands or motivational drives. In the present study, we examined developmental trajectories of multiple indicators of behavioral disinhibition assessed from preadolescence into early adulthood among individuals with versus without alcohol, tobacco, and cannabis use disorders. Participants were a population-based sample of 1512 male and female twins from the Minnesota Twin Family Study, prospectively assessed at ages 11, 14, 17, 20, and 24. Multimodal indicators of behavioral disinhibition included measures of executive function (visuospatial working memory accuracy, antisaccade task performance) and mother- and self-reported trait disconstraint. Multilevel modeling analyses that accounted for the repeated measures and nested nature of the twin family data were used to examine premorbid (age 11) indicators of executive function and trait disconstraint prior to the onset of any SUD symptoms, as well as changes from preadolescence into early adulthood (ages 11 to 24). Premorbid deviations evident at age 11 among individuals who subsequently developed SUDs included poorer performance on the visuospatial working memory test and higher levels of trait disconstraint. In addition, individuals with SUDs did not demonstrate developmentally normative improvements in inhibitory control (i.e., antisaccade performance did not improve) or in their levels of trait disconstraint. We conclude that these deviations in both neurocognitive and dispositional correlates of behavioral disinhibition precede onset of SUDs and may confer risk for their development, and in addition, problematic substance use may exacerbate preexisting deviations and interfere with normative developmental trajectories of executive function and trait disconstraint, with deleterious consequences for functioning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalInternational Journal of Psychophysiology
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019



  • Antisaccade task
  • Behavioral disinhibition
  • Executive functions
  • Inhibitory control
  • Substance use
  • Trait disconstraint
  • Visuospatial working memory test

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

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