Crum : Piloting a functional MRI emotion regulation task in youth with parental alcohol use disorder histories
Piloting a functional MRI emotion regulation task in youth with parental alcohol use disorder histories
Indiana University School of Medicine
Kathleen I. Crum, PhD (Indiana University School of Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina), Joseph Aloi, MD, PHD (Indiana University School of Medicine), & Leslie Hulvershorn, MD, MSc (Indiana University School of Medicine)
Youth alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a serious public health problem. Emotion dysregulation is one potential pathway to AUD. Risk for youth AUD is also affected by parental AUD, which likely influences youth neurobiology and in turn, youths’ emotion regulation. Indeed, emotion dysregulation is associated with AUD family history. However, associations between parental AUD, youths’ neurodevelopment, and youths’ alcohol use have been minimally examined. Addressing this gap would support AUD prevention. Therefore, my objective is to pilot a functional MRI task eliciting implicit emotion regulation, or youths’ ability to modulate negative emotions when performing a cognitive task, among youth whose parents have AUD histories.
Six alcohol/substance-naïve youth ages 10-12, whose parents had AUD histories, performed the Emotional N-Back task during functional MRI scanning. Parents reported on their alcohol/substance use. Youth confirmed alcohol/substance-naïve status by self-report. A 4×2 whole-brain ANOVA was conducted with the following within-subject independent variables: emotional valence (fearful, angry, neutral faces; places); cognitive task difficulty (high, low working memory load); valence x difficulty.
At a threshold of p<.02, the ANOVA identified brain regions whose activation differed by emotional valence and cognitive task difficulty. I found significant effects of valence (ventromedial prefrontal cortex, angular gyrus) and difficulty (dorsomedial prefrontal cortex/anterior cingulate cortex, anterior insula) in brain regions associated with salience and attention networks.
Findings indicate that the fMRI task elicits activation from the expected large-scale, brain-level systems, and is functioning as intended in this specialized sample of youth. Regarding feasibility, data quality was promising despite the motion concerns accompanying a young age range.
Translational/Human Health Impact:
Findings will inform sample sizes estimates in impending NIH grant applications; they support the feasibility of recruiting and scanning youth at IU. This pilot project is pivotal to launching my program of research to identify youth for early, targeted intervention and mitigate risk for AUD.