A psychological trait called neurobehavioral disinhibition (ND), which consists of a measurable decrease in behavior control, modulation of emotion, and higher-level thought, may help identify boys at risk of habitual drug abuse after experimentation with an addictive substance, according to a study published in the December 2007 issue of Psychology of Addictive Behaviors. Investigators funded by NIDA evaluated 278 boys between the ages of 10 and 12 for the ND trait. The boys returned for a follow-up evaluation at age 16, and again at 19, when they were diagnosed with the presence or absence of substance use disorder (SUD) by a clinical committee. The investigators found that the ND trait score measured at ages 10 to 12 could significantly predict SUD at age 19, as well as a history of arrests, violent behavior, and concussive injury. Interestingly, neuroimaging of 21 of the boys showed that activation of the frontal cortex, a region of the brain thought to play a role in regulating higher-level cognitive behavior, correlated more strongly with the ND trait score than did activity in any other region of the brain. Although the study had several limitations—including that the boys were not randomly selected but instead chosen based on the presence or absence of SUD in their fathers, and that no girls were included in the cohort—the ND trait has “potential value as a screening tool… for detection of high-risk youths,” as well as value as a tool for future research, state the authors.