Psychology graduate student awarded competitive NRSA F31 grant

By Brandon Isahack

Ileana Pacheco Colon

Psychology graduate student Ileana Pacheco-Colón‘s F31 training grant, co-sponsored by Raul Gonzalez and Angela Laird, was recently funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

This project will leverage data from two ongoing longitudinal studies to examine associations between exercise, cognition and cannabis use among adolescents. Specifically, this proposal will examine decision making as a mediator of the association between exercise and cannabis use among adolescents over a 1-year period (Aim 1). It will also examine the moderating influence of exercise on the association between cannabis use and memory performance among adolescents over a 1-year period (Aim 2). Finally, this project will examine the neural underpinnings of the associations between exercise and cognition in a sample of preadolescent children by analyzing blood-oxygen-level dependent (BOLD) activation during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) monetary incentive delay and N-back tasks (Aim 3).

Through a carefully crafted training plan, Pacheco-Colón will gain advanced understanding of the effects of addiction and exercise on brain and cognitive function, as well as the skills necessary to conduct advanced longitudinal and fMRI data analyses. This project will foster Pacheco-Colón’s development as an independent researcher focused on disentangling risk and protective factors from consequences of adolescent substance use, and longitudinally examining the impact of early substance use on adolescent brain and cognitive development.