Previous research indicates that risk for substance use is associated with poor inhibitory control. However, it remains unclear whether at-risk youth follow divergent patterns of inhibitory control development. As part of the longitudinal National Consortium on Adolescent Neurodevelopment and Alcohol study, participants (N = 113, baseline age: 12–21) completed a rewarded antisaccade task during fMRI, with up to three time points. We examined whether substance use risk factors, including psychopathology (externalizing, internalizing) and family history of substance use disorder, were associated with developmental differences in inhibitory control performance and BOLD activation. Among the examined substance use risk factors, only externalizing psychopathology exhibited developmental differences in inhibitory control performance, where higher scores were associated with lower correct response rates (p = .013) and shorter latencies (p < .001) in early adolescence that normalized by late adolescence. Neuroimaging results revealed higher externalizing scores were associated with developmentally-stable hypo-activation in the left middle frontal gyrus (p < .05 corrected), but divergent developmental patterns of posterior parietal cortex activation (p < .05 corrected). These findings suggest that early adolescence may be a unique period of substance use vulnerability via cognitive and phenotypic disinhibition.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Externalizing psychopathology
- Inhibitory control
- Substance use risk