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PSYC230 Lecture 4- Alcohol and Substance Use in Adolescence
Terms in this set (40)
Why should we focus on alcohol use in adolescence?
Because alcohol consumption in adolescence my be directly related to brain changes during this time
Alcohol is also seen as a 'right of passage' in a lot of cultures
What is adolescence?
The transition from childhood to adulthood- starts from age 12- late teens.
Characterised by sexual maturity (puberty) and establishment of identity
Seen as time of stress and behavioural change
Associated with experimentation with drugs and alcohol, although most won't continue with risky behaviours into adulthood
How is the structure of the adolescent brain different to the adult brain?
The adolescent brain has an increased number of synapses that begin to be pruned during this period, leading to an eventual reduction in grey matter.
Connections between different brain areas are not fully established until adulthood
Myelination continues into adulthood, particularly in frontal areas
In an adolescent brain, which areas are last to be pruned and therefore last to mature? What are these areas involved in?
The Basal Ganglia (involved in movement, habitual behaviour and inhibition, especially stopping something you have already started)
Prefrontal Cortex Areas such as the Orbitofrontal Cortex and Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex (involved in predicting future outcomes and incentive valence, e.g. how valuable something is seen to be)
When prefrontal areas aren't pruned and matured, what can this result in?
This can result in the person having less control over their behavour and not predicting outcomes as well. E.g. they may not realise that drinking a large amount will have a negative effect.
Behaviour is therefore more likely to be more impulsive and prone to risk taking
Which brain areas are myelinatd earlier than others?
Areas involved in reward (such as the nucelus accumbens) and emotion (amygdala) are myelinated earlier than others.
In adolescents, brain areas involved in reward and emotion mature earlier than others, whereas brain areas involved in inhibition and predicting future outcomes etc. are not matured. What effect does this have?
This means that there may be more reward seeking. The combination of lack of inhibition but lots of emotion and reward seeking may lead to risky behaviours such as drug taking, sexual behaviour and driving.
Steinberg (2010) propsed we have 2 cognitive systems, what are they called?
1) Socio-emotional System
2) Cognitive Control System
According to Steinberg (2010), what is the Socio-emotional System?
This system is involved in emotion, reward etc. It is made up of the amygdala, ventral striatum and prefrontal cortex.
According to Steinberg (2010) when does the Socio-emotional System mature?
It matures in early adolescence
According to Steinberg (2010) what is the Cognitive Control System?
This system is involved in controlling behaviour and responses. It is made up of the frontal areas of the brain.
According to Steineberg (2010), the Cognitive Control System matures later than the Socio-emotional system. What might this result in?
This might result in adolescents being unable to regulate acitvity from the socio-emotional system and therefore participating more in sensation-seeking etc.
What is Impulsivity?
This is the tendency to engage in inappropriate or maladaptive behaviours. It involves behaving without thinking.
Hard to measure due to subjectivity.
Who is known to consider impulsivity as a trait or 'dimension of personality'?
There are a number of questionnaires that measure impulsivity as a trait. They ask questions about whether the person plans things or makes up their mind easily etc. Give an example of one of these questionnaires?
Buss and Plomin's (1975) Behavioural Impulsivity Scale
Whiteside and Lynam (2001) came up with the UPPS framework. What did they state impulsivity is characterised by?
Urgency- the tendency to act impulsively due to high levels of positive or negative affect
Premeditation (lack of)- tendency to act without considering consequences
Perserverance (lack of)- tendency to give up due to boredom, fatigue or frustration
Sensation seeking- tendency to pursue activities that are exciting or novel
How could UPPs traits (and therefore impulsivity) lead to drinking alcohol?
Positive urgency (e.g. good grades) > feel good > drink
Negative urgency (e.g. bad grades) > feel bad > drink
Premeditation (lack of):
Has work the next day > unable to consider consequences > drinks
Perserverance (lack of):
Tries to stop drinking > gets bored > drinks
Seeks excitement > drinks
According to Steinberg et al (2008) when does trait impulsivity decline?
Trait impulsivity declines from the age of 10 to the age of 30
According to Steinberg et el (2008) when does sensation seeking increase and decline?
Sensation seeking increases from the age of 10 to the age of 15 and then declines
Sensation seeking and trait impulsivity both decline from the age of 10/15. What might this be a result of?
This might be a result of adolescent brain changes e.g. more pruning and myelination in the Basal Ganglia and Frontal Areas in adulthood
When does sensation seeking peak according to Casey and Jones (2010)
It peaks when the difference in maturity between reward centres of the brain and developmental frontal areas of the brain was greatest (i.e. when there is less pruning and myelination in frontal areas but more pruning and myelination in reward areas)
What did Strautz and Cooper (2013) find UPPS impulsivity traits to be associated with?
They found them to be associated with increased alcohol consumption and problematic use of alcohol
What are the two things we look at when measuring impulsivity as a behaviour?
1) Impulsive choice
2) Impulsive action (inhibitory control/inhibition)
How is impulsive choice often measured?
Using 'Delay Discounting'.
Delay discounting measures the extent to whcih individuals would prefer small immediate rewards over larger long term rewards.
Individuals who choose smaller immediate rewards are considered more impulsive.
How is impulsive action (inhibitiory control/inhibition) measured?
Using experiments which examine the extent to which ptps are able to inhibit a prepotent response (e.g. a response which has already been readied).
One example is the 'Stroop task' where ptps have to read the colour of the ink of an incongruent colour word
Another example is the 'Stop/Signal' task where ptps have to press left or right in response to arrow, but if a beep happens, you have to inhibit response.
Liston et al (2006) got ptps to perform an inhibition-control task called the 'go-no go' task and measured their myelination. What was found?
Ptps who performed better on the Go-No go task had increased myelination. Their performance also improved with age.
This suggests myelination may increase with age, leading to better performance on inhibitory-control tasks
What did Nigg et al (2006) find the Strop-Signal performance to predict?
It predicted alcohol related problems and illicit drug use among adolescents
What did performance on a stop-signal task and delay discounting task among 12-13 yr olds predict?
Predicted ptps alcohol use every 6 months across 2 years.
Although alchol use did not predict stop-signal task performance, suggesting poor impulsivity doesn't neccesarily cause alcohol use
Some people argue adolescents aren't as impulsive as they're made out to be. Why?
Because most adolescents don't engage in physical aggression and those that do, do so at an early age. Their aggression then declines. (Nagin & Tremblay, 1999)
70% of adults are not binge drinkers, true or false?
True (Hill et al, 2000)
How has impulsivity been linked to academic attainment in children?
Mischel et al (2010) found that the longer the child is able to delay eating a marshmallow (and therefore delay gratification) the more they are able to exert cognitive control and the better their academic attainment is.
What are some issues with the Marshmallow test?
The original experiement used a small, selective sample.
Recent replications find smaller correlations between delaying gratification and academic attainment (Watts et al, 2018).
Correlations were not adjusted for confounds. The correlation is reduced when controlling for family background, home environment and early cognitive ability
What are early life stressors associated with, according to Anda et al (2006)?
They are associated with risky behaviour in adolescence
What are abuse, neglect, exposure to violence and parental substance use associated with?
Drug use, addiction and suicide
In females, sexual abuse is highly related to earlier age of intercourse and unintended pregnancy. What does this suggest?
Suggests early life stressors may partly account for later risky behaviours
Romer (2010) says there is little evidence linking neural development to increased impulsivity to adolescence. Give an example of this?
Cortical thinning from age 5-11 is associated with improved vocabulary, but this is too early for this to be due to maturation and so may just reflect learning
What did Lu and Sowell (2009) find with regards to pruning and IQ?
Pruning occurs later in life for those with superior IQ's (measured from age 7-19)
What evidence from Berns et al (2009) suggests that myelination and age don't neccesarily reduce impulsivity?
They found that risk taking is positively correlated with white matter (myelin) development.
What were the results of the 'Good Behaviour Game' intervention on impulsivity? (Petras et al, 2008)
It was found that the good behaviour game has long lasting effects on those who have high rates of aggression and uncontrolled behaviour
According to Romer et al (2010) experience in risk taking improves performance on delay discounting tasks (i.e. reduces impulsivity). What does this suggest?
This suggests that people's impulsivity improves if they know how to behave in scenarios where they would usually take risks.
Impulsiveness in adolescence may reflect a lack of experience with novel adult behaviour.
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