Testing the effects of adolescent alcohol use on adult conflict-related theta dynamics

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4 Scopus citations


Objective Adolescent alcohol use (AAU) is associated with brain anomalies, but less is known about long-term neurocognitive effects. Despite theoretical models linking AAU to diminished cognitive control, empirical work testing this relationship with specific cognitive control neural correlates (e.g., prefrontal theta-band EEG dynamics) remains scarce. A longitudinal twin design was used to test the hypothesis that greater AAU is associated with reduced conflict-related EEG theta-band dynamics in adulthood, and to examine the genetic/environmental etiology of this association. Methods In a large (N = 718) population-based prospective twin sample, AAU was assessed at ages 11/14/17. Twins completed a flanker task at age 29 to elicit EEG theta-band medial frontal cortex (MFC) power and medial–dorsal prefrontal cortex (MFC-dPFC) connectivity. Two complementary analytic methods (cotwin control analysis; biometric modeling) were used to disentangle the genetic/shared environmental risk towards AAU from possible alcohol exposure effects on theta dynamics. Results AAU was negatively associated with adult cognitive control-related theta-band MFC power and MFC-dPFC functional connectivity. Genetic influences primarily underlie these associations. Conclusions Findings provide strong evidence that genetic factors underlie the comorbidity between AAU and diminished cognitive control-related theta dynamics in adulthood. Significance Conflict-related theta-band dynamics appear to be candidate brain-based endophenotypes/mechanisms for AAU.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2358-2368
Number of pages11
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Institute of Health grants DA005147 and AA009367 . J.H. was supported by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship under Grant No. 00039202 .


  • Adolescent alcohol use
  • Cognitive control
  • Cotwin control
  • Endophenotype
  • Functional connectivity
  • Theta

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