Alcohol Use Disorder, But Not Cannabis Use Disorder, Symptomatology in Adolescents Is Associated With Reduced Differential Responsiveness to Reward Versus Punishment Feedback During Instrumental Learning

Joseph Aloi, Karina S. Blair, Kathleen I. Crum, Johannah Bashford-Largo, Ru Zhang, Jennie Lukoff, Erin Carollo, Stuart F. White, Soonjo Hwang, Francesca M. Filbey, Matthew Dobbertin, R. James R. Blair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: The two most commonly used illegal substances by adolescents in the United States are alcohol and cannabis. Alcohol use disorder (AUD) and cannabis use disorder (CUD) have been associated with dysfunction in decision-making processes in adolescents. One potential mechanism for these impairments is thought to be related to abnormalities in reward and punishment processing. However, very little work has directly examined potential differential relationships between AUD and CUD symptom severity and neural dysfunction during decision making in adolescents. Methods: In the current study, 154 youths participated in a passive avoidance learning task during functional magnetic resonance imaging to investigate the relationship between relative severity of AUD/CUD and dysfunction in processing reward and punishment feedback. Results: Increasing Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test scores were associated with reduced neural differentiation between reward and punishment feedback within regions of striatum, posterior cingulate cortex, and parietal cortex. However, increasing Cannabis Use Disorder Identification Test scores were not associated with any neural dysfunction during the passive avoidance task. Conclusions: These data expand on emerging literature that relative severity of AUD is associated with reduced responsivity to rewards in adolescents and that there are differential associations between AUD and CUD symptoms and neurocircuitry dysfunction in the developing adolescent brain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalBiological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2020



  • Adolescent
  • Alcohol use disorder
  • Instrumental learning
  • Reward
  • Striatum
  • fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Biological Psychiatry

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