Background: Individuals with a positive family history for alcoholism (FHP) have shown differences from family-history-negative (FHN) individuals in the neural correlates of reward processing. FHP, compared to FHN individuals, demonstrate relatively diminished ventral striatal activation during anticipation of monetary rewards, and the degree of ventral striatal activation shows an inverse correlation with specific impulsivity measures in alcohol-dependent individuals. Rewards in socially interactive contexts relate importantly to addictive propensities, yet have not been examined with respect to how their neural underpinnings relate to impulsivity-related measures. Here we describe impulsivity measures in FHN and FHP individuals as they relate to a socially interactive functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) task. Methods: Forty FHP and 29 FHN subjects without histories of Axis-I disorders completed a socially interactive Domino task during functional magnetic resonance imaging and completed self-report and behavioral impulsivity-related assessments. Results: FHP compared to FHN individuals showed higher scores (p = .004) on one impulsivity-related factor relating to both compulsivity (Padua Inventory) and reward/punishment sensitivity (Sensitivity to Punishment/Sensitivity to Reward Questionnaire). Multiple regression analysis within a reward-related network revealed a correlation between risk-taking (involving another impulsivity-related factor, the Balloon Analog Risk Task (BART)) and right ventral striatum activation under reward >punishment contrast (p<0.05 FWE corrected) in the social task. Conclusions: Behavioral risk-taking scores may be more closely associated with neural correlates of reward responsiveness in socially interactive contexts than are FH status or impulsivity-related self-report measures. These findings suggest that risk-taking assessments be examined further in socially interactive settings relevant to addictive behaviors.
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