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Peer influence, Frontostriatal connectivity, and delay discounting in African American emerging adults

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Prior research has demonstrated the importance of delay discounting in adverse health behaviors, such as addiction, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, risk taking, and obesity. Nevertheless, the functional connectivity of neural circuitry associated with delay discounting and the ways in which the social environment may influence frontostriatal connectivity remain largely unknown, particularly in African Americans. Building on recent literature implicating frontostriatal connectivity during active delay discounting decision making and at rest, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging to assess the association between delay discounting and frontostriatal resting state connectivity (rsFC). We also examined the capacity of social relationships with parents and peers to longitudinally predict frontostriatal rsFC. The study cohort was composed of 91 rural African American emerging adults followed over a 6-year period. Greater (i.e., more positive) frontostriatal rsFC was associated with decreased delay discounting (i.e., less impulsive decision making). In addition, peer relationships at ages 20 and 21 significantly predicted frontostriatal rsFC at age 25 above and beyond parental influence. A significant indirect effect of peer affiliation on delay discounting through frontostriatal rsFC also emerged. These results indicate a role of frontostriatal connectivity in delay discounting decision making and highlight peers’ unique influence on decision making behaviors through frontostriatal rsFC during emerging adulthood.

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This work was supported by a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse awarded to Gene Brody (P30, DA027827).

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Correspondence to Christopher Holmes.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Holmes, C., Owens, M., Beach, S.R.H. et al. Peer influence, Frontostriatal connectivity, and delay discounting in African American emerging adults. Brain Imaging and Behavior 14, 155–163 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11682-018-9977-y

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  • Peer influence
  • Parent influence
  • Frontostriatal connectivity
  • Delay discounting
  • Emerging adulthood