Early childhood temperament predicts substance use in young adults

A. Lahat, K. Pérez-Edgar, K. A. Degnan, A. E. Guyer, C. W. Lejuez, M. Ernst, D. S. Pine, N. A. Fox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Behavioral inhibition (BI) is an important early childhood marker of risk for later psychiatric problems. The current 20-year prospective, longitudinal study focused on individual differences in this early temperament and adolescent brain function. As adolescents, 83 participants initially identified in infancy with the temperament of BI were assessed using functional imaging to examine striatal responses to incentives. Five years later, as young adults, these participants provided self-report of their substance use. Our findings show that childrens early temperament interacts with their striatal sensitivity to incentives in adolescence to predict their level of substance use in young adulthood. Those young adults who, as children, showed the highest levels of BI reported the greatest substance use if, as adolescents, they also exhibited striatal hypersensitivity to incentives. These longitudinal data delineate one developmental pathway involving early biology and brain mechanisms for substance use in young adulthood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere157
JournalTranslational psychiatry
StatePublished - 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Biological Psychiatry


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