Biography and Research Interests
Alcohol use increases dramatically during (late) adolescence(Brown et al., 2008; Poelen, Scholte, Engels, Boomsma, & Willemsen, 2005; Schulenberg et al., 2001), when drinking becomes a key part of college culture. Whilst heavy alcohol consumption in adolescence may continues into adulthood and can be associated with an increased risk for alcohol problems and dependence later in life (Duncan, Alpert, Duncan, & Hops, 1997; Englund, Egeland, Oliva, & Collins, 2010; McCambridge, McAlaney, & Rowe, 2011), remarkably not every adolescent heavy drinker develops an alcohol addiction during adulthood. One key factor In order to reveal why one remains a heavy (problematic) drinker after college hood whilst the other does not, may be related to the reasons why people drink. Some people drink alcohol for social reasons, because ‘everyone expects you to drink’ and others may have reasons related to the effects of alcohol, because ‘they want to get drunk’ (Cox & Klinger, 2004). In this project we aim to distinguish these two different types of drinkers based on their neural underpinnings. By examining the brain responses to social drinking situations and the brain responses after receiving the taste of alcohol, we aim to explain social and non-social drinking behaviour and to predict heavy drinking patterns.
Our research questions:
(1) Can social drinking behaviour be related to brain responses when viewing pictures of social alcohol drinking scenes?
(2) Can heavy drinking be related to brain responses when tasting alcohol?
(3) Can brain responses to the taste of alcohol predict drinking behaviour one year later?