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Squeglia,etal.2009.alcohol - Psychology of Addictive...

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Initiating Moderate to Heavy Alcohol Use Predicts Changes in Neuropsychological Functioning for Adolescent Girls and Boys Lindsay M. Squeglia and Andrea D. Spadoni San Diego University/University of California San Diego and VA San Diego Healthcare System M. Alejandra Infante VA San Diego Healthcare System Mark G. Myers and Susan F. Tapert VA San Diego Healthcare System and University of California San Diego This study prospectively examines the influence of alcohol on neuropsychological functioning in boys and girls characterized prior to initiating drinking ( N 76, ages 12–14). Adolescents who transitioned into heavy ( n 25; 11 girls, 14 boys) or moderate ( n 11; 2 girls, 9 boys) drinking were compared with matched controls who remained nonusers throughout the 3-year follow-up period ( N 40; 16 girls, 24 boys). For girls, more past year drinking days predicted a greater reduction in visuospatial task performance from baseline to follow-up, above and beyond performance on equivalent measures at baseline ( R 2 10%, p .05), particularly on tests of visuospatial memory ( R 2 8%, p .05). For boys, a tendency was seen for more past year hangover symptoms to predict worsened sustained attention ( R 2 7%, p .05). These preliminary longitudinal findings suggest that initiating moderately heavy alcohol use and incurring hangover during adolescence may adversely influence neurocognitive func- tioning. Neurocognitive deficits linked to heavy drinking during this critical developmental period may lead to direct and indirect changes in neuromaturational course, with effects that would extend into adulthood. Keywords: adolescence, alcohol, hangover, neuropsychological assessment, visuospatial functioning Adolescence marks a time of significant increases in alcohol use, with 31% of boys and 22% of girls in the 12th grade endorsing heavy episodic drinking in the past 2 weeks (Johnston, O’Malley, Bachman, & Schulenberg, 2008). These high rates are concerning in regards to potential deleterious effects of alcohol on adolescent brain development (Brown et al., 2008; Squeglia, Jacobus, & Tapert, 2009, for reviews). The adolescent brain incurs rapid anatomical and neurochemical changes (Giedd, 2004; Sowell et al., 2004), including cortical remodeling and hormonal alterations (Crews, He, & Hodge, 2007), with females undergoing these changes 1 to 2 years before males on average (Giedd et al., 2006). These changes may heighten adolescents’ vulnerability to the neural effects of alcohol (Clark & Tapert, 2008; Dahl, 2004), impeding key processes of cognitive development (Chanraud et al., 2007). Because most studies have been cross-sectional, the effects of adolescent alcohol use on neurocognitive development remain inconclusive. Cross-sectional studies have found disadvantaged neurocognition among adolescents with alcohol use disorders (AUDs), including poorer retrieval (Brown, Tapert, Granholm, & Delis, 2000), attention and information processing (Tapert & Brown, 2000; Tarter, Mezzich, Hsieh, & Parks, 1995), visuospatial (Sher, Martin, Wood, & Rutledge, 1997; Tapert & Brown, 1999), and language (Moss, Kirisci, Gordon, & Tarter, 1994) functioning than nondrinkers. Executive functioning deficits have been found
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