Working Memory Linked to Resiliency and Adolescent Alcohol Use


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Resiliency and working memory are linked to alcohol use during adolescence. Image by artM

Resiliency and Gender

While in this study, women exhibited more resiliency overall, the measure was not statistically significant. Dr. Weiland told us that, “earlier work by our group, with a larger sample, did not find differences in resiliency, or its relationship to substance use, by gender.” Yet a 2010 study found resiliency was highly valued by senior corporate executives, and has been lauded by those seeking to advance women’s careers, including the Girl Scouts, who seek to teach resiliency to disadvantaged girls.

Teaching Resiliency by Expanding Working Memory

Any casual internet search will find programs designed to increase working memory. We asked Dr. Weilend if increasing working memory could also increase flexibility, and perhaps insulate adolescents against drug use, and she responded, “We suspect that the complex tasks involved in working memory are supported by similar brain processes involved in resiliency, further study would be required to determine if improving working memory would cause increased resiliency.”

Increase Memory Power and Boost Resiliency?

While being able to measure resiliency through testing of working memory is an exciting piece of the puzzle, learning if boosting working memory can increase resiliency is the key for those wishing to reduce alcohol dependency. As Weiland suggests, society might benefit from early interventions for children or adolescents at risk for substance abuseEducators, or non-profits such as the Girl Scouts could focus on boosting resilient behaviors such as learning to deal with uncertainty or unfamiliar situations. Training children to negotiate the mine field of adolescence may lead to healthier, more sober, adults.


Accucenture. 2010 Women’s Research—Resilience is the Key to Keeping Your Job. (2010). Accessed May 27, 2012.

Girl Scout Research Institute. The Resilience Factor: A Key to Leadership in African American and Hispanic Girls. (2011). Accessed May 27, 2012.

Weiland, B., et. al. Resiliency in adolescents at high risk of substance abuse: flexible adaptation via subthalamic nucleus and linkage to drinking and drug use in early adulthood. (2012). Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. Accessed May 27, 2012.

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