Alcohol use disorder and cannabis use disorder symptomatology in adolescents are differentially related to dysfunction in brain regions supporting face processing

Emily K. Leiker, Harma Meffert, Laura C. Thornton, Brittany K. Taylor, Joseph Aloi, Heba Abdel-Rahim, Niraj Shah, Patrick M. Tyler, Stuart F. White, Karina S. Blair, Francesca Filbey, Kayla Pope, Matthew Dobbertin, R. James R. Blair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Despite extensive behavioral evidence of impairments in face processing and expression recognition in adults with alcohol or cannabis use disorders (AUD/CUD), neuroimaging findings have been inconsistent. Moreover, relatively little work has examined the relationship of AUD or CUD symptoms with face or expression processing within adolescents. Given the high prevalence of alcohol and cannabis use during adolescence, understanding how these usage behaviors interact with neural mechanisms supporting face and expression processing could have important implications for youth social and emotional functioning. In this study, adolescents (N = 104) responded to morphed fearful and happy expressions during fMRI and their level of AUD and/or CUD symptoms were related to the BOLD response data. We found that AUD and CUD symptom severity were both negatively related to responses to faces generally. However, whereas this relationship was shown for AUD within ventromedial prefrontal cortex and lingual gyrus, it was shown for CUD within rostromedial prefrontal cortex including anterior cingulate cortex. Additionally, AUD symptom levels were associated with differential responses within medial temporal pole and inferior parietal lobule as a function of expression. These results have potential implications for understanding the social and emotional functioning of adolescents with AUD and CUD symptoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)62-71
Number of pages10
JournalPsychiatry Research - Neuroimaging
Publication statusPublished - Oct 30 2019
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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