Family Members of Those with SUDs: Examining Associations between Family and PFC Functioning

Hannah Agner, Spencer D. Bradshaw, Lauren Winfrey, Mazie Zielinski, Sterling T. Shumway

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Family functioning impacts individuals with a substance use disorder (SUD) and relates to treatment recovery outcomes. A family system and each family member mutually influence one another. Research has also shown alterations in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) functioning of family members who have a loved one with a SUD. This study examined associations between family functioning and PFC activation of such family members using functional near-infrared spectroscopy to measure cerebral blood flow in response to SUD loved-one images. A relationship was found between family functioning and left superior frontal sulcus activation. This PFC region is associated with social responding and self-referential processing. These findings support the importance of family member involvement in recovery processes, and highlight family functioning as an important factor connected with individual functioning and well-being.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-81
Number of pages19
JournalAlcoholism Treatment Quarterly
StatePublished - 2020


  • Family functioning
  • codependency
  • fNIR
  • left superior frontal sulcus
  • prefrontal cortex
  • substance use disorder


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