Neural and Genetic Correlates of Binge Drinking Among College Women
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Ninety-seven female students, aged 18–20 yrs, were assigned to groups consisting of 55 infrequent (less than monthly) and 42 frequent (at least monthly) binge drinkers. The groups were compared on self-report measures of impulsivity, sensation seeking, and alexithymia. The groups were also compared on several objective measures relevant to neural and genetic mechanisms, such as brain activation during a time estimation task and selected genotypes. Analyses of stimulus-locked brain activity revealed a slow cortical potential generated over the right parietal cortex during time estimation that was more negative in the frequent binge drinking group. This group also showed a greater prevalence of a CHRM2 genotype previously associated with substance dependence and Major Depressive Disorder as well as a modest elevation on a non-planning impulsiveness selfreport scale. We conclude that the enhanced brain activation shown by binge drinkers during time estimation compensates for an underlying deficit. That deficit may be reflected in poor planning skills and a genetic difference indicating increased risk for both externalizing and internalizing disorders in later life.