Research indicates that alcohol misuse is associated with behavioral disinhibition, but the neurophysiological mechanisms governing this relationship remain largely unknown. Recent work suggests that successful inhibition and cognitive control involve electrophysiological theta-band dynamics, including medial frontal cortex (MFC) power enhancement and functional connectivity between the MFC and dorsal prefrontal cortex (dPFC) regions, which may be disrupted by alcohol misuse. In addition, research suggests that, compared to men, women are at heightened risk of experiencing the negative physical and neurocognitive correlates of drinking. The present study tested the hypothesis that alcohol misuse has a deleterious effect on theta-band response inhibition EEG dynamics in a sample of 300 24-year-old same-sex twins. A cotwin control (CTC) design was used to disentangle premorbid risk for alcohol use from the causal effects of alcohol exposure. Drinking was negatively associated with theta-band MFC power and MFC–dPFC connectivity during response inhibition, and this effect was stronger among women. The CTC analysis suggested that, for women, reduced nogo-related theta-band MFC power and MFC–dPFC connectivity were both consistent with the potential deleterious causal effects of alcohol exposure. These findings suggest that diminished theta-band MFC power and MFC–dPFC connectivity may be neurophysiological mechanisms underlying alcohol-related disinhibition. Although preliminary, these results suggest that normative levels of alcohol use during emerging adulthood have potential sex-specific causal effects on response inhibition EEG dynamics, and thus have potentially significant public health implications.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health grant R01 DA036216. J.H. was supported by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship under Grant No. 00039202.
© 2016 Society for the Study of Addiction
- cotwin control
- functional connectivity
- inhibitory control
- sex differences