Neural Responses to Signals for Behavior Change: Greater Within-Person Variability is Associated With Risk Factors for Substance Dependence

Lance O Bauer
Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research 2020 July 31

BACKGROUND: An impaired ability to change behavior in the face of cues indicating a need for change is one means of defining risk for substance dependence. The present study used a cognitive task administered in a laboratory as a model of this process. It focused on two known and related correlates of risk (Conduct Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder) and examined their associations with reactivity to cues requesting a change in motor behavior.

METHODS: 224 teenagers, 14-19 years of age, performed a task during which white noise bursts were used to cue a requirement to reverse the mapping of right and left key press responses onto high and low frequency pure tones during a subsequent trial block. The amplitude of the P300 electroencephalographic (EEG) response to each cue was summarized by calculating its across-trial average as well as its inter-trial variability (ITV). In addition, the number of motor response reversal failures (perseveration errors) was calculated.

RESULTS: The ITV of the P300 response to cues for behavior change was superior to its average amplitude in revealing associations with risk: it was significantly greater among teenagers with more conduct problems and more Borderline Personality Disorder symptoms in comparison to their less-affected peers. ITV was also positively correlated with perseveration errors. No group differences were found in P300 amplitude averaged over trials.

CONCLUSIONS: The findings suggest that the measurement of inter-trial variability in brain activity may be more valuable than the average level for revealing neurophysiological differences associated with impulsivity and personality risk factors for dependence. EEG measures may be particularly valuable in this context because they offer superior temporal resolution and signal-to-noise characteristics.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"