Next in mental health, substance abuse: Preventive interventions to strengthen working memory


Strong work­ing mem­o­ry puts brakes on prob­lem­at­ic drug use (Med­ical Xpress):

Ado­les­cents with strong work­ing mem­o­ry are bet­ter equipped to escape ear­ly drug exper­i­men­ta­tion with­out pro­gress­ing into sub­stance abuse issues…Most impor­tant in the pic­ture is exec­u­tive atten­tion, a com­po­nent of work­ing mem­o­ry that involves a per­son­’s abil­i­ty to focus on a task and ignore dis­trac­tions while pro­cess­ing rel­e­vant goal-ori­ent­ed infor­ma­tion, says Ati­ka Khu­rana, a pro­fes­sor in the Depart­ment of Coun­sel­ing Psy­chol­o­gy and Human Services…

Pre­frontal regions of the brain can apply the brakes or exert top-down con­trol over impul­sive, or reward seek­ing urges,”…The find­ings sug­gest new approach­es for ear­ly inter­ven­tion since weak­ness­es in exec­u­tive func­tion­ing often under­lie self-con­trol issues in chil­dren as young as 3 years old, she said. A fam­i­ly envi­ron­ment strong in struc­tured rou­tines and cog­ni­tive-stim­u­la­tion could strength­en work­ing mem­o­ry skills…For old­er chil­dren, inter­ven­tions could be built around activ­i­ties that encour­age social com­pe­tence and prob­lem solv­ing skills in com­bi­na­tion with cog­ni­tion-build­ing efforts to increase self-con­trol and work­ing memory.”

Study: Exper­i­men­ta­tion ver­sus pro­gres­sion in ado­les­cent drug use: A test of an emerg­ing neu­robe­hav­ioral imbal­ance mod­el (Devel­op­ment and Psy­chopathol­o­gy; behind paywall)

  • Abstract: Based on an emerg­ing neu­ro­science mod­el of addic­tion, this study exam­ines how an imbal­ance between two neu­robe­hav­ioral sys­tems (reward moti­va­tion and exec­u­tive con­trol) can dis­tin­guish between ear­ly ado­les­cent pro­gres­sive drug use and mere exper­i­men­ta­tion with drugs. Data from four annu­al assess­ments of a com­mu­ni­ty cohort (N = 382) of 11- to 13-year-olds were ana­lyzed to mod­el het­ero­gene­ity in pat­terns of ear­ly drug use. Base­line assess­ments of work­ing mem­o­ry (an indi­ca­tor of the func­tion­al integri­ty of the exec­u­tive con­trol sys­tem) and three dimen­sions of impul­siv­i­ty (char­ac­ter­iz­ing the bal­ance between reward seek­ing and exec­u­tive con­trol sys­tems) were used to pre­dict het­ero­ge­neous latent class­es of drug use tra­jec­to­ries from ear­ly to midado­les­cence. Find­ings revealed that an imbal­ance result­ing from weak exec­u­tive con­trol and height­ened reward seek­ing was pre­dic­tive of ear­ly pro­gres­sion in drug use, while height­ened reward seek­ing bal­anced by a strong con­trol sys­tem was pre­dic­tive of occa­sion­al exper­i­men­ta­tion only. Impli­ca­tions of these results are dis­cussed in terms of pre­ven­tive inter­ven­tions that can tar­get under­ly­ing weak­ness­es in exec­u­tive con­trol dur­ing younger years, and poten­tial­ly enable at-risk ado­les­cents to exer­cise greater self-restraint in the con­text of reward­ing drug-relat­ed cues.

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SHARPBRAINS es un think-tank y consultoría independiente proporcionando servicios para la neurociencia aplicada, salud, liderazgo e innovación.

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