Reward-related ventral striatum activity links polygenic risk for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder to problematic alcohol use in young adulthood.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


Problematic alcohol use in adolescence and adulthood is a common and often debilitating correlate of childhood attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Converging evidence suggests that ADHD and problematic alcohol use share a common additive genetic basis, which may be mechanistically related to reward-related brain function. In the current study, we examined whether polygenic risk for childhood ADHD is linked to problematic alcohol use in young adulthood through alterations in reward-related activity of the ventral striatum, a neural hub supporting appetitive behaviors and reinforcement learning.


Genomic, neuroimaging, and self-report data were available for 404 non-Hispanic European-American participants who completed the ongoing Duke Neurogenetics Study. Polygenic risk scores for childhood ADHD were calculated based on a genome-wide association study meta-analysis conducted by the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium and tested for association with reward-related ventral striatum activity, measured using a number-guessing functional magnetic resonance imaging paradigm, and self-reported problematic alcohol use. A mediational model tested whether ventral striatum activity indirectly links polygenic risk for ADHD to problematic alcohol use.


Despite having no main effect on problematic alcohol use, polygenic risk for childhood ADHD was indirectly associated with problematic alcohol use through increased reward-related ventral striatum activity.


Individual differences in reward-related brain function may, at least in part, mechanistically link polygenic risk for childhood ADHD to problematic alcohol use.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Carey, CE; Knodt, AR; Conley, ED; Hariri, AR; Bogdan, R

Published Date

  • March 2017

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 2 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 180 - 187

PubMed ID

  • 28825048

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC5560771

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2451-9030

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 2451-9022

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.bpsc.2016.10.003


  • eng