Influences of Age, Sex, and Moderate Alcohol Drinking on the Intrinsic Functional Architecture of Adolescent Brains

Eva M. Müller-Oehring, Dongjin Kwon, Bonnie J. Nagel, Edith V. Sullivan, Weiwei Chu, Torsten Rohlfing, Devin Prouty, B. Nolan Nichols, Jean Baptiste Poline, Susan F. Tapert, Sandra A. Brown, Kevin Cummins, Ty Brumback, Ian M. Colrain, Fiona C. Baker, Michael D. De Bellis, James T. Voyvodic, Duncan B. Clark, Adolf Pfefferbaum, Kilian M. Pohl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


The transition from adolescent to adult cognition and emotional control requires neurodevelopmental maturation likely involving intrinsic functional networks (IFNs). Normal neurodevelopment may be vulnerable to disruption from environmental insult such as alcohol consumption commonly initiated during adolescence. To test potential disruption to IFN maturation, we used resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI) in 581 no-to-low alcohol-consuming and 117 moderate-to-high-drinking youth. Functional seed-to-voxel connectivity analysis assessed age, sex, and moderate alcohol drinking on default-mode, executive-control, salience, reward, and emotion networks and tested cognitive and motor coordination correlates of network connectivity. Among no-to-low alcohol-consuming adolescents, executive-control frontolimbicstriatal connectivity was stronger in older than younger adolescents, particularly boys, and predicted better ability in balance, memory, and impulse control. Connectivity patterns in moderate-to-high-drinking youth were tested mainly in late adolescence when drinking was initiated. Implicated was the emotion network with attenuated connectivity to default-mode network regions. Our cross-sectional rs-fMRI findings from this large cohort of adolescents show sexual dimorphism in connectivity and suggest neurodevelopmental rewiring toward stronger and spatially more distributed executive-control networking in older than younger adolescents. Functional network rewiring in moderate-to-high-drinking adolescents may impede maturation of affective and self-reflection systems and obscure maturation of complex social and emotional behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1049-1063
Number of pages15
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018


  • alcohol
  • emotion
  • executive control
  • functional MRI
  • puberty
  • resting state connectivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Influences of Age, Sex, and Moderate Alcohol Drinking on the Intrinsic Functional Architecture of Adolescent Brains'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this