AMPed-up adolescents: The role of age in the abuse of amphetamines and its consequences on cognition and prefrontal cortex development

Sara R. Westbrook, Lauren K. Carrica, Asia Banks, Joshua M. Gulley

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Adolescent use of amphetamine and its closely related, methylated version methamphetamine, is alarmingly high in those who use drugs for nonmedical purposes. This raises serious concerns about the potential for this drug use to have a long-lasting, detrimental impact on the normal development of the brain and behavior that is ongoing during adolescence. In this review, we explore recent findings from both human and laboratory animal studies that investigate the consequences of amphetamine and methamphetamine exposure during this stage of life. We highlight studies that assess sex differences in adolescence, as well as those that are designed specifically to address the potential unique effects of adolescent exposure by including groups at other life stages (typically young adulthood). We consider epidemiological studies on age and sex as vulnerability factors for developing problems with the use of amphetamines, as well as human and animal laboratory studies that tap into age differences in use, its short-term effects on behavior, and the long-lasting consequences of this exposure on cognition. We also focus on studies of drug effects in the prefrontal cortex, which is known to be critically important for cognition and is among the later maturing brain regions. Finally, we discuss important issues that should be addressed in future studies so that the field can further our understanding of the mechanisms underlying adolescent use of amphetamines and its outcomes on the developing brain and behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number173016
JournalPharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior
StatePublished - Nov 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Biochemistry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology


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