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BARCS Study: A Brief Overview

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  1. BARCS Study: A Brief Overview Principal Investigator : Dr. Godfrey Pearlson CCSU Investigators: Dr. Carol Shaw Austad Dr. Carolyn Fallahi Dr. Rebecca Wood Trinity Investigator: Dr. Sarah Raskin Funded by National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) grant RO1 AA016599

  2. The BARCS Mascot

  3. Study Objectives • Identify neurological, cognitive, emotional, and academic developmental changes during adolescence and early adulthood • Investigate changes in typical neuropsychological development associated with alcohol use • Identify different drinking patterns among college-age drinkers and the various outcomes associated with these patterns • Generate normative developmental data, based on light drinkers and nondrinkers, and document trends over time

  4. Participants • 2000 college freshmen (ages 18-25) • Participants were currently attending Central Connecticut State University or Trinity College (the tables that follow represent CCSU only) • Participants were recruited from introductory psychology classes, and from the general student population at both universities

  5. Participant Demographics (CCSU):Sex and Age

  6. Participant Demographics (CCSU):Race and Ethnicity

  7. Procedure:CCSU and Trinity • Participants attended an initial set of two appointments as freshmen • Baseline measures of health, alcohol and drug use, and cognitive functioning • After these appointments, participants recorded their alcohol and substance use, as well as any psychological and social changes using monthly online surveys • After two years, participants completed a set of two follow-up appointments, nearly identical to the first

  8. Procedure:Olin Neuropsychiatric Research Center (ONRC) • A portion of participants from CCSU and Trinity were invited to ONRC, located in the Institute of Living at Hartford Hospital, for further testing • Procedure: • 30-minute electroencephalography (EEG) • 90-minute MRI • Computerized neurocognitive tests • Detailed interview assessing alcohol use • Substance use history

  9. Brain Imaging Techniques For BARCS: fMRI and sMRI • Structural Magnetic Resonance Imaging (sMRI) • Powerful magnetic field is used to produce an image of the internal structure of the body • A structural MRI provides a clear and detailed image of brain tissue • BARCS will use this technique to see structural changes in the brains of participants through the duration of the study • Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) • Visualizes brain activity by measuring changes in blood flow, using blood-oxygen-level-dependent (BOLD) contrast • Participants perform various tasks while in the scanner • This allows us to assess the extent to which different areas of the brain are activated during these tasks

  10. Brain Imaging Techniques for BARCS:EEG • Electroencephalography (EEG) measures electrical activity in the brain via electrodes placed on the scalp • When neurons fire, they change their electrical charge, thus cell firing can be detected by these electrodes • There are 6 EEG bands • Each band refers to a different frequency range recorded by the electrodes, and corresponds to different cognitive activities and arousal levels • These bands allow us to make inferences about participants’ cognitive activity at different points in time, throughout various tasks • EEG is useful when looking to detect very rapid changes (recorded in milliseconds) in cell firing EEG Cap

  11. Concepts and Measures • Impulsivity • Barratt Impulsiveness Scale-11 (BIS-11) • Zuckerman Sensation Seeking Scale (SSS) • Neurocognitive Functioning • One-Back (Attention) • Groton Maze Task (Spatial Problem Solving, Memory) • Digit-Symbol Task (Processing Speed) • BART (Inhibition) • Behavioral Inhibition System and Behavioral Activation System Scale (BIS/BAS)

  12. Concepts and Measures, cont. • Psychiatric Assessment • Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview (MINI) • Environmental Factors • Life Events Scale for Students (LESS) • Perceived Social Support Scale (PSS) • Alcohol and Substance Use Patterns • Modified Timeline Followback (TLFB) • Self Rating Effects of Alcohol (SRE) • Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV (SCID)- Alcohol Use Disorder and Substance Use Disorder Subscales • Drinking Motives Questionnaire (Modified) • Fagerstrom (Nicotine Dependence)

  13. Preliminary Results:Drinking/Substance Use on Campus • Results for participant reported alcohol use: • Average number of drinks per week: 5.56 • “In the past 30 days on those occasions when you drank alcohol, how many drinks did you usually have?”: 3.33 • “On how many days did you have a drink of alcohol in the past 30 days?”: 3.87 • Results: Days of marijuana use in the past 30 days: • Never: 69% • 1-5 days: 16.4% • 6-19 days: 7.1% • 20-30 days: 7.6% • In a sample of CCSU participants (N=430): • 90 (20.9%) met criteria for Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) • 340 (79.1%) did not meet criteria for AUD

  14. Preliminary Results:Correlates of Alcohol Use • Dysfunctional Drinkers: • Increased scores of impulsivity, sensation seeking, disinhibition, and fun seeking • Social Drinkers: • Increased motor impulsiveness (acting on the spur of the moment) and fun seeking, compared to non-drinkers • Non-Drinkers (Teetotalers): • Decreased levels of perceived social support from friends • Fewer life event stressors • Drinking and GPA • Negative correlation between binge drinking and GPA • This trend is strongest in the first year of college, then begins to diminish

  15. Preliminary Results:Family History of Alcoholism • Those with a family history of alcoholism (FH+) have significantly different motives for drinking than FH- • Social, Coping, and Enhancement drinking motives were reported at a higher rate for FH+ • FH+ also: • Reported more days of drinking per month • Reported more days of binge drinking per month • Higher rates of AUD and SUD • Increased scores of sensation seeking, cognitive instability, and antisocial personality disorder

  16. Comparison: CORE Data and BARCS Data • CORE Institute is a national database that collects information about student alcohol and drug use • The following CORE data is taken from a sample of 890 CCSU freshmen from 2010

  17. CCSU’s Involvement • Over 1500 CCSU students have participated in BARCS, giving them an opportunity to contribute to the scientific literature, and to learn about the research process • CCSU’s involvement in a nationally-funded research project increases the university’s academic and research reputation, and gains recognition for the school • The study also investigates alcohol use patterns among many CCSU students, and therefore allows us to compare our findings to data from the nation as a whole

  18. Importance of the Study • The BARCS study is one of the few projects that assess alcohol use over a span of several years and include a large group of participants • These factors make the study more sensitive to subtle, long-term changes due to alcohol use than many others • Previous research focuses on total volume of alcohol consumed, while the BARCS study investigates the role of drinking patterns • Individuals that consume a similar amount of alcohol over time- but differ in their drinking patterns- may have distinct changes in behavioral and neurological development • i.e. Compare an individual who drinks 1 drink per night, seven nights per week and an individual who drinks 7 drinks in one night, once per week