Resting-state regional cerebral blood flow during adolescence: Associations with initiation of substance use and prediction of future use disorders

Amy E. Ramage, Ai Ling Lin, Rene L. Olvera, Peter T. Fox, Douglas E. Williamson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background: Adolescence is a period of developmental flux when brain systems are vulnerable to influences of early substance use, which in turn relays increased risk for substance use disorders. Our study intent was to assess adolescent regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) as it relates to current and future alcohol use. The aim was to identify brain-based predictors for initiation of alcohol use and onset of future substance use disorders. Methods: Quantitative rCBF was assessed in 100 adolescents (age 12-15). Prospective behavioral assessments were conducted annually over a three-year follow-up period to characterize onset of alcohol initiation, future drinking patterns and use disorders. Comparisons amongst use groups (i.e., current-, future-, and non-alcohol using adolescents) identified rCBF associated with initiation of alcohol use. Regression by future drinking patterns identified rCBF predictive of heavier drinking. Survival analysis determined whether or not baseline rCBF predicted later development of use disorders. Results: Baseline rCBF was decreased to the parietal cortex and increased to mesolimbic regions in adolescents currently using alcohol as well as those who would use alcohol in the future. Higher baseline rCBF to the left fusiform gyrus and lower rCBF to the right inferior parietal cortex and left cerebellum was associated with future drinking patterns as well as predicted the onset of alcohol and substance use disorders in this cohort. Conclusions: Variations in resting rCBF to regions within reward and default mode or control networks appear to represent trait markers of alcohol use initiation and are predictive of future development of use disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-48
Number of pages9
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Ireland Ltd.


  • Adolescence
  • Alcohol use
  • Regional cerebral blood flow
  • Substance use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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