Adolescent Alcohol Consumption – It’s Effect on Risk-Preference

Dr. Jamie Roitman, Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), is interested in understanding the neural mechanisms that underlie decision-making.  Failure to engage in appropriate decision-making can adversely impact our finances and health, and is broadly implicated in many disorders – such as gambling, drug addiction, smoking, overeating, and affective disorders.
Dr. Roitman was awarded a 2011 seed grant by the Brain Research Foundation to study how increased alcohol consumption in adolescence may have long term effects on risk-taking and decision-making abilities in adulthood. The idea behind the proposal has been something that Roitman has thought about for several years. But until she received BRF funding she did not have the means to pursue this research project.
With her $40,000 seed grant, Dr. Roitman is employing a post-doctoral fellow in her lab to measure how consumption of alcohol by rodents during the critical development period of adolescence alters adult patterns of activity in two key areas of the brain — the orbitofrontal cortex, which is involved in evaluating risk to guide decisions, and the nucleus accumbens, which is important for processing rewards and goal-directed behavior.
“Adolescence is a time in our lives when the front part of our brains is going through structural changes,” said Dr. Roitman.  “In the project funded by the BRF, I’m looking at the neural circuitry that continues to lead to what most would agree are poor decisions in adulthood even after the excessive alcohol consumption is no longer prevalent.  I’m hoping it can lead to a better understanding of why we continue to jump at immediate rewards rather than look at the long-term outcomes of our actions once we are adults.”
With the data collected in this project, Dr. Roitman said she plans to apply for a grant with the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism to broaden her study on the topic.

Other Grants

Lindsay M. De Biase, Ph.D., University of California Los Angeles
The Role of Microglial Lysosomes in Selective Neuronal Vulnerability
Synapses, the sites of signaling between neurons in the brain, play essential roles in learning, memory, and the health of neurons themselves. An enduring mystery is why some neurons are…
How the Nervous System Constructs Internal Models of the External World
As animals navigate their environments, they construct internal models of the external sensory world and use these models to guide their behavior. This ability to incorporate ongoing sensory stimuli into…
Xiaojing Gao, Ph.D., Stanford University
When Neural Circuits Meet Molecular Circuits: Quantitative Genetic Manipulation with Single-cell Consistency
Cells are the building blocks of our bodies. We get sick when the cells “misbehave”. The way modern gene therapies work is to introduce genes, fragments of DNA molecules that…
Rafiq Huda, Ph.D., Rutgers University
Conducting the Orchestra of Movement—Functional Role of Striatal Astrocytes in Health and Disease
Movement requires coordinated activity across a large brain-wide network. The striatum is a particularly important part of this circuit; it integrates motor-related information from many distinct brain regions to regulate…