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Alcohol Use Disrupts Age-Appropriate Cortical Thinning in Adolescence: A Data Driven Approach

By Delin Sun, Viraj R Adduru, Rachel D. Phillips, Heather C Bouchard, Aristeidis Sotiras, Andrew M Michael, Fiona C. Baker, Susan F. Tapert, Sandra A. Brown, Duncan B. Clark, David Goldston, Kate B Nooner, Bonnie J. Nagel, Wesley K Thompson, Michael De Bellis, Rajendra A. Morey

Posted 17 May 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.05.17.444458

Objective: Cortical thickness changes dramatically during development and is influenced by adolescent drinking. However, previous findings have been inconsistent and limited by region-of-interest approaches that are underpowered because they do not conform to the underlying heterogeneity from the effects of alcohol. Methods: Adolescents (n=657; 12-22 years at baseline) from the National Consortium on Alcohol and Neurodevelopment in Adolescence (NCANDA) who endorsed little to no alcohol use at baseline were assessed with structural MRI and followed longitudinally at four yearly intervals. Seven unique spatially covarying patterns of cortical thickness were obtained from the baseline scans by applying a novel data-driven method called non-negative matrix factorization (NMF). The cortical thickness maps of all participants' longitudinal scans were projected onto vertex-level cortical patterns to obtain participant-specific coefficients for each pattern. Linear mixed-effects models were fit to each pattern to investigate longitudinal effects of alcohol consumption on cortical thickness. Results: In most NMF-derived cortical thickness patterns, the longitudinal rate of decline in no/low drinkers was similar for all age cohorts, among moderate drinkers the decline was faster in the younger cohort and slower in the older cohort, among heavy drinkers the decline was fastest in the younger cohort and slowest in the older cohort (FDR corrected p-values < 0.01). Conclusions: The NMF method can delineate spatially coordinated patterns of cortical thickness at the vertex level that are unconstrained by anatomical features. Age-appropriate cortical thinning is more rapid in younger adolescent drinkers and slower in older adolescent drinkers.

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