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The effect of alcohol use on neuroimaging correlates of cognitive and emotional processing in human adolescence.



This article provides an overview of the scientific literature pertaining to the effects of alcohol on neural correlates of cognitive and emotional functioning, including reward processing and cue-reactivity, in adolescence and young adulthood.


Peer-reviewed, original research articles that included a neuroimaging assessment of alcohol effects on subsequent cognitive or emotional processing in adolescent or young adult samples were searched (through November 2018) and summarized in the review.


Cross-sectional studies provided early evidence of alcohol-related differences in neural processing across a number of cognitive domains. Longitudinal studies have identified neural abnormalities that predate drinking within most domains of cognitive functioning, while a few neural alterations have been observed within the domains of visual working memory, inhibitory control, reward processing, and cue-reactivity that appear to be related to the neurotoxic effect of alcohol use during adolescence. In contrast, neural correlates of emotion functioning appear to be relatively stable to the effects of alcohol.


Larger prospective studies are greatly needed to disentangle premorbid factors from neural consequences associated with drinking, and to detect subsets of youth who may be particularly vulnerable to alcohol's effects on cognitive and emotional functioning. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).

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