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Abnormalities in reward circuit function are considered a core feature of addiction. Yet, it is still largely unknown whether these abnormalities stem from chronic drug use, a genetic predisposition, or both.
In the present study, we investigated this issue using a large sample of adolescent children by applying structural equation modeling to examine the effects of several dopaminergic polymorphisms of the D1 and D2 receptor type on the reward function of the ventral striatum (VS) and orbital frontal cortex (OFC), and whether this relationship predicted the propensity to engage in early alcohol misuse behaviors at 14 years of age and again at 16 years of age.
The results demonstrated a regional specificity with which the functional polymorphism rs686 of the D1 dopamine receptor (DRD1) gene and Taq1A of the ANKK1 gene influenced medial and lateral OFC activation during reward anticipation, respectively. Importantly, our path model revealed a significant indirect relationship between the rs686 of the DRD1 gene and early onset of alcohol misuse through a medial OFC × VS interaction.
These findings highlight the role of D1 and D2 in adjusting reward-related activations within the mesocorticolimbic circuitry, as well as in the susceptibility to early onset of alcohol misuse.
Evidence regarding the association between adolescent internalising symptoms and school non-completion has been limited and inconclusive.
To examine whether depressive and anxious symptoms at secondary school entry predict school non-completion beyond confounders and whether associations differ by baseline academic functioning.
We used logistic regression to examine associations between depressive and anxious symptoms in grade 7 (age 12–14) and school non-completion (age 18–20) in 4962 adolescents.
Depressive symptoms did not predict school non-completion after adjustment, but moderation analyses revealed an association in students with elevated academic functioning. A curvilinear association was found for anxiety: both low and high anxious symptoms predicted school non-completion, although only low anxiety remained predictive after adjustment.
Associations between internalising symptoms and school non-completion are modest. Common school-based interventions targeting internalising symptoms are unlikely to have a major impact on school non-completion, but may prevent non-completion in selected students.
Using longitudinal and prospective measures of psychotic experiences during adolescence, we assessed the risk of developing psychosis in three groups showing low, increasing and elevated psychotic experiences associated with bullying by peers and cannabis use in a UK sample of adolescents.
Data were collected by self-report from 1098 adolescents (mean age 13.6 years; 60.9% boys) at five separate time points, equally separated by 6 months, across a 24-month period. General growth mixture modelling identified three distinct trajectories of adolescents reporting psychotic experiences: elevated, increasing and low.
Controlling for cannabis use, bullying by peers significantly predicted change in psychotic experiences between Time 2 and Time 5 in adolescents belonging to the increasing group. No effect was found for the elevated or low groups. Controlling for bullying, an earlier age of cannabis use and cannabis use more than twice significantly predicted change in psychotic experiences in adolescents belonging to the increasing group. Cannabis use at any age was significantly associated with subsequent change in psychotic experiences in the low group. Reverse causal associations were examined and there was no evidence for psychotic experiences at Time 1 predicting a subsequent change in cannabis use between Times 2 and 5 in any trajectory group.
Bullying by peers and cannabis use are associated with adolescents' reports of increasing psychotic experiences over time. Further research into the longitudinal development of psychosis in adolescence and the associated risk factors would allow for early intervention programmes to be targeted more precisely.
Research suggests that psychotic-like experiences (PLEs) in the general population are common, but can reflect either transitory or persistent developmental phenomena. Using a general adolescent population it was examined whether different developmental subtypes of PLEs exist and whether different trajectories of PLEs are associated with certain environmental risk factors, such as victimization and substance use.
Self-reported PLEs were collected from 409 adolescents (mean age 14 years 7 months) at four time points, each 6 months apart. General growth mixture modelling was utilized to identify classes of adolescents who followed distinct trajectories of PLEs across this period. Predictors of class membership included demographics, personality, victimization, depression, anxiety and substance use.
We identified the following three developmental subgroups of PLEs: (1) persistent; (2) increasing; (3) low. Adolescents on the persistent trajectory reported frequent victimization and consistent elevated scores in depression and anxiety. Adolescents on the increasing trajectory were engaging in cigarette use prior to any increases in PLEs and were engaging in cocaine, cannabis and other drug use as PLEs increased at later time points.
The findings suggest that different developmental subgroups of PLEs exist in adolescence and are differentially related to victimization and substance use.
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