Neurocognitive Functioning of Adolescents: Effects of Protracted Alcohol Use

Authors

  • Sandra A. Brown,

    Corresponding author
    1. Psychology Service, VA San Diego Healthcare System and the Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego (S.A.B., S.F. T., E.G., D.C.D.); and the Department of Psychology, University of California, San Diego (S.A.B.), California.
      Reprint requests: Sandra A. Brown, Ph.D., Department of Psychology (0109), University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093-0109; Fax: 858-822-1886; E-mail: sanbrown@ucsd.edu
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  • Susan F. Tapert,

    1. Psychology Service, VA San Diego Healthcare System and the Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego (S.A.B., S.F. T., E.G., D.C.D.); and the Department of Psychology, University of California, San Diego (S.A.B.), California.
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  • Eric Granholm,

    1. Psychology Service, VA San Diego Healthcare System and the Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego (S.A.B., S.F. T., E.G., D.C.D.); and the Department of Psychology, University of California, San Diego (S.A.B.), California.
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  • Dean C. Delis

    1. Psychology Service, VA San Diego Healthcare System and the Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego (S.A.B., S.F. T., E.G., D.C.D.); and the Department of Psychology, University of California, San Diego (S.A.B.), California.
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  • This research was supported by grants from the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (5R01 AA07033) and the Veterans Medical Research program (S.A.B.); preparation of this manuscript was supported in part by Grant MH18399 (Fellowship: Clinical Psychopharmacology & Psychobiology) from the National Institute of Mental Health (S. T.)

  • Portions of this research were presented at the International Conference on Developmental Psychopathology, New Orleans, LA, October, 1997 (S.A.B.)

Reprint requests: Sandra A. Brown, Ph.D., Department of Psychology (0109), University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093-0109; Fax: 858-822-1886; E-mail: sanbrown@ucsd.edu

Abstract

Background:

The present study examined associations between alcohol involvement in early to middle adolescence and neuropsychological (NP) functioning.

Methods:

Alcohol-dependent adolescents (n= 33) with over 100 lifetime alcohol episodes and without dependence on other substances were recruited from alcohol/drug abuse treatment facilities. Comparison (n= 24) adolescents had no histories of alcohol or drug problems and were matched to alcohol-dependent participants on age (15 to 16 years), gender, socioeconomic status, education, and family history of alcohol dependence. NP tests and psychosocial measures were administered to alcohol-dependent participants following 3 weeks of detoxification.

Results:

Alcohol-dependent and comparison adolescents demonstrated significant differences on several NP scores. Protracted alcohol use was associated with poorer performance on verbal and nonverbal retention in the context of intact learning and recognition discriminability. Recent alcohol withdrawal among adolescents was associated with poor visuospatial functioning, whereas lifetime alcohol withdrawal was associated with poorer retrieval of verbal and nonverbal information.

Conclusions:

Deficits in retrieval of verbal and nonverbal information and in visuospatial functioning were evident in youths with histories of heavy drinking during early and middle adolescence.

Ancillary