Adolescent Executive Cognitive Functioning and Trait Impulsivity as Predictors of Young-Adult Risky Drinking and Alcohol-Related Problems

Connor B. Jones, Madeline H. Meier, William E. Corbin, Laurie Chassin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Executive cognitive functioning (ECF) and trait impulsivity have long been implicated in risky drinking and alcohol-related problems. However, research on these constructs has developed independently. The present study tested whether two subdomains of adolescent ECF (updating and response inhibition) and adolescent trait impulsivity, considered separately and together, predicted young-adult risky drinking and alcohol-related problems. Data came from the Adolescent/Adult Family Development Project-a longitudinal study of the intergenerational transmission of alcohol use. Alcohol-naïve youth ages 11-17 (N = 249) completed three tasks tapping ECF subdomains of updating (letter-number sequencing, matrix span task) and inhibition (immediate memory task) and a self-reported measure of trait impulsivity (UPPS-P). Approximately 7 years later (ages 18-25), participants reported on their drinking behavior (maximum drinks in a day, heavy episodic drinking, alcohol-related problems). We tested whether adolescent ECF and trait impulsivity predicted young-adult drinking outcomes, separately and together. Results showed that poorer adolescent ECF (a latent factor) predicted more maximum drinks in a day (Incidence Rate Ratios [IRR] = 1.27, p = .001) but not young-adult heavy episodic drinking and alcohol-related problems. In contrast, adolescent trait impulsivity predicted all three outcomes: maximum drinks in a day (IRR = 1.34, p < .001), heavy episodic drinking (β = 0.27, p < .001), and alcohol-related problems in young adulthood (IRR = 1.60, p = .001). Results were similar when adolescent ECF and trait impulsivity were considered together in the same model. Findings suggest that adolescent trait impulsivity is a robust predictor of young-adult risky drinking and alcohol-related problems. Adolescent ECF, and specifically response inhibition, may add predictive value over and above trait impulsivity for some alcohol outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPsychology of Addictive Behaviors
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

Keywords

  • Alcohol
  • Alcohol-related problems
  • Executive cognitive functioning
  • Impulsivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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