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Research Identifies Teen Brain Networks Associated With Drug Abuse


Teen Brain Networks Associated With Drug Abuse

Researchers at the University of Vermont have discovered why some teens are more likely to use drugs and alcohol than their peers of the same age. The study was recently published in the journal Nature Neuroscience. Using a functional MRI, researchers were able to identify the brain networks associated with such behaviors. According to the researchers, a diminished activity in these networks is correlated with an impulsive behavior. It seems that there are some differences between the various networks of the prefrontal cortex that makes young people having deviant behavior (for alcohol, drugs, etc.).

Teen Drugs

The study results, which implied 1896 14-year-olds,  suggests that such  behaviors are caused by peculiarities of the brain. In other words, susceptibility to drugs and alcohol is driven by activity in brain networks responsible for this behaviour. A teenager prone to drug use will be tempted at some point to try these substances. Dr.Garavan, who served as the principal investigator of the Irish component of this large European research project, called IMAGEN, said: “The differences in tissue networks seem to precede drug use. ” He added that testing low activity of these circuits in the brain may serve as a marker for potential drug use.

Also, researchers found the brain circuitry responsible for ADHD. ADHD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is a disorder of growth that occurs more frequently in boys. Studies have shown that ADHD is in most cases genetic in nature. Moreover,  children with ADHD  may have language delay and are more prone to depression or anxiety. It was also found that children with ADHD have a lower volume of brain (especially with greater reduction prefrontal cortex of the left). Because the association of ADHD with antisocial personality disorder, lately has been much discussion of a possible organic connection between ADHD and drug use. Association was done because both behaviors have a common pattern, namely impulsiveness. But researchers have found that networks involved  in ADHD are different from those involved in drugs abuse.

Teens involved in the study were asked to perform a repetitive task, namely to press a specific button on a keyboard. Those with better inhibitory control could perform this task faster. In this way the researchers identified seven networks in which impulses have been inhibited and 6 networks in which pulses were not inhibited. Dr. Garavani cautions that these two behavioral disorders, drug abuse and ADHD, have the two different regions of the brain substrate. He added theta addiction is a major health problem in western world.