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Brain Res. 2012 Jan 13;1432:66-73. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2011.11.013. Epub 2011 Nov 11.

Frontoparietal connectivity in substance-naïve youth with and without a family history of alcoholism.

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University of California, San Diego, Department of Psychiatry, 9500 Gilman Drive (0603V), La Jolla, CA 92093-0603V, USA.


Frontoparietal connections underlie key executive cognitive functions. Abnormalities in the frontoparietal network have been observed in chronic alcoholics and associated with alcohol-related cognitive deficits. It remains unclear whether neurobiological differences in frontoparietal circuitry exist in substance-naïve youth who are at-risk for alcohol use disorders. This study used functional connectivity magnetic resonance imaging and diffusion tensor imaging to examine frontoparietal connectivity and underlying white matter microstructure in 20 substance-naïve youth with a family history of alcohol dependence and 20 well-matched controls without familial substance use disorders. Youth with a family history of alcohol dependence showed significantly less functional connectivity between posterior parietal and dorsolateral prefrontal seed regions (ps<.05), as compared to family history negative controls; however, they did not show differences in white matter architecture within tracts subserving frontoparietal circuitry (ps>.34). Substance-naïve youth with a family history of alcohol dependence show less frontoparietal functional connectivity in the absence of white matter microstructural abnormalities as compared to youth with no familial risk. This may suggest a potential neurobiological marker for the development of substance use disorders.

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