Trajectories of reinforcement sensitivity during adolescence and risk for substance use

Craig R. Colder, Larry W. Hawk, Liliana J. Lengua, William Wiezcorek, Rina Das Eiden, Jennifer P. Read

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (SciVal)


Developmental neuroscience models suggest that changes in responsiveness to incentives contribute to increases in adolescent risk behavior, including substance use. Trajectories of sensitivity to reward (SR) and sensitivity to punishment (SP) were examined and tested as predictors of escalation of early substance use in a community sample of adolescents (N = 765, mean baseline age 11.8 years, 54% female). SR and SP were assessed using a laboratory task. Across three annual assessments, SR increased, and rapid escalation was associated with increases in substance use. SP declined and was unrelated to substance use. Findings support contemporary views of adolescent brain development and suggest that early adolescent substance use is motivated by approach responses to reward, rather than failure to avoid potential aversive consequences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)345-356
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Research on Adolescence
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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