Longitudinal pathways linking family risk, neural risk processing, delay discounting, and adolescent substance use

Jungmeen Kim-Spoon, Nina Lauharatanahirun, Kristin Peviani, Alexis Brieant, Kirby Deater-Deckard, Warren K. Bickel, Brooks King-Casas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Background: Current theories in neuroscience emphasize the crucial role of individual differences in the brain contributing to the development of risk taking during adolescence. Yet, little is known about developmental pathways through which family risk factors are related to neural processing of risk during decision making, ultimately contributing to health risk behaviors. Using a longitudinal design, we tested whether neural risk processing, as affected by family multi-risk index, predicted delay discounting and substance use. Method: One hundred and fifty-seven adolescents (aged 13–14 years at Time 1, 52% male) were assessed annually three times. Family multi-risk index was measured by socioeconomic adversity, household chaos, and family risk-taking behaviors. Delay discounting was assessed by a computerized task, substance use by questionnaire data, and risk-related neural processing by blood-oxygen-level-dependent (BOLD) responses in the amygdala during a lottery choice task. Results: Family multi-risk index at Time 1 was related to adolescent substance use at Time 3 (after controlling for baseline substance use) indirectly through heightened amygdala sensitivity to risks and greater delay discounting. Conclusions: Our results elucidate the crucial role of neural risk processing in the processes linking family multi-risk index and the development of substance use. Furthermore, risk-related amygdala activation and delay discounting are important targets in the prevention and treatment of substance use among adolescents growing up in high-risk family environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)655-664
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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