Functional activation during the Stroop is associated with recent alcohol but not marijuana use among high-risk youth

Rachel E. Thayer, Sarah W. Feldstein Ewing, Andrew B. Dodd, Natasha S. Hansen, Andrew R. Mayer, Josef M. Ling, Angela D. Bryan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Despite studies showing the relevance of different decision-making abilities, including response inhibition, to likelihood of using substances during adolescence, few have examined these neural processes among high-risk, substance-using youth. The current study explored associations between alcohol and marijuana use and functional activation differences during Stroop performance among a large sample (. N=80) of ethnically-diverse, high-risk youth in an fMRI-based task. In the absence of associations between substance use and task behavioral performance, adolescents with greater alcohol use showed less activation during the more cognitively difficult portion of the task across clusters in bilateral cuneus and precuneus, and right and left superior temporal gyrus. No associations were observed with marijuana use. The current results may suggest neural patterns of deactivation in regions important for cognitive control, such that alcohol use may confer additional risk for future decreased inhibition among these high-risk adolescents. The ability to inhibit prepotent responses has been shown to predict later response to treatment, and early interventions to encourage further development of cognitive control could represent promising options for treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)130-136
Number of pages7
JournalPsychiatry Research - Neuroimaging
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 30 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescence
  • Alcohol use
  • FMRI
  • Marijuana use
  • Stroop

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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