Alcohol-associated stimuli activate the ventral striatum in abstinent alcoholics

Central Institute of Mental Health, Mannheim, Federal Republic of Germany.
Journal of Neural Transmission (Impact Factor: 2.4). 02/2001; 108(7):887-94. DOI: 10.1007/s007020170038
Source: PubMed


Alcohol-associated cues may act as conditioned stimuli that activate the brain reward system and motivate alcohol intake in alcoholics. Alcohol-associated visual stimuli were presented during functional magnetic resonance imaging. An activation of the ventral putamen was observed in alcoholics but not in control subjects. Patients with a strong activation of the ventral putamen relapsed during the next three months. This observation supports the hypothesis that alcohol use affects areas involved in brain reward circuits and that their stimulus-induced activation may be associated with an increased risk for relapse.

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    • "• Patients who relapsed within 3 months after discharge had lower levels of dopamine during detoxification than patients who did not relapse, according to a study that measured dopamine in 21 AUD inpatients using [ 123 I] iodobenzamide (IBZM) single-photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT) (Guardia et al. 2000). showed increased activity in part of the striatum, called the ventral putamen, when viewing visual alcohol cues during the early weeks of abstinence (at least 1 week after detoxification) (Braus et al. 2001). • On the other hand, recently detoxified (1 to 3 weeks) alcoholic patients with a blunted striatal response to positive emotional pictures relative to neutral pictures had a greater number of drinking days and a higher amount of alcohol consumed during the 6-month followup (Heinz et al. 2007). "
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    ABSTRACT: Chronic alcohol-related neuroadaptations in key neural circuits of emotional and cognitive control play a critical role in the development of, and recovery from, alcoholism. Converging evidence in the neurobiological literature indicates that neuroplastic changes in the prefrontal-striatal-limbic circuit, which governs emotion regulation and decisionmaking and controls physiological responses in the autonomic nervous system and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis system, contribute to chronic alcoholism and also are significant predictors of relapse and recovery. This paper reviews recent evidence on the neuroplasticity associated with alcoholism in humans, including acute and chronic effects, and how these neurobiological adaptations contribute to alcohol recovery, along with the discussion of relevant clinical implications and future research directions.
    Alcohol research : current reviews 09/2015; 37(1):143-152.
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    • "al . , 2012 ) , the left temporal gyrus ( Tapert et al . , 2004 ) , and the left inferior parietal lobule ( Fryer et al . , 2013 ) . We also found activations of visual pro - cessing areas , such as the precuneus and the lingual gyrus , suggesting a deep visual automatic processing of alcohol - related cues in comparison with neutral object cues ( Braus et al . , 2001 ) . We did not find any significant implication of the amygdala in the bars attended conditions , suggesting that this area is not clearly involved in the automatic processing of alcohol - related stimuli ( Pessoa et al . , 2002 ; Siep et al . , 2009 ) . Nevertheless , its activation was also not observed in the attended condition , unl"
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    ABSTRACT: Background While the automatic processing of alcohol-related cues by alcohol abusers is well established in experimental psychopathology approaches, the cerebral regions involved in this phenomenon and the influence of alcohol intake on this process remain unknown. The aim of this functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study was to investigate the neural mechanisms underlying the processing of task-irrelevant alcohol-related stimuli in young heavy drinkers and their modulation by alcohol administration.Methods Twelve heavy drinking male participants were scanned on 2 separate days; once after a low dose of alcohol intake (0.4 g/kg), and once after a placebo intake, in balanced order. Images of alcoholic drinks, soft drinks, or neutral objects were shown while participants' neural activity was recorded through fMRI. Moreover, participants' attentional focus was manipulated using a task which required them to process the central images of interest (focus alcohol condition) or a center unattended task (focus not on alcohol condition).ResultsResults indicated that an explicit judgment on beverage-related cues increased activation in the prefrontal area compared with the judgment of neutral objects. By comparison with that of task-irrelevant neutral cues, the processing of task-irrelevant alcohol-related cues increased the activation in a large network of cerebral areas including visual and temporal regions, the bilateral anterior cingulate cortex, the posterior cingulate cortex, and the putamen. Moreover, in the condition with focus not on alcohol, the ventral tegmental area (VTA) was particularly activated by the presentation of (task-irrelevant) alcohol-related cues compared to task-irrelevant soft-drink-related cues.Conclusions The VTA was especially involved in the automatic processing of alcohol-related cues in young heavy drinkers. Low dose of alcohol did not modulate the neural substrates involved in the processing of salient alcohol-related cues.
    Alcoholism Clinical and Experimental Research 09/2015; 39(10). DOI:10.1111/acer.12835 · 3.21 Impact Factor
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    • "Cognitive impairments have been demonstrated under conditions of acute alcohol challenges, in non-drinkers and drinkers, and in populations of binge drinkers, chronic heavy drinkers, alcohol dependent and recently abstinent alcohol dependent individuals (Weissenborn & Duka, 2003; Fillmore et al., 2005; Goudriaan et al., 2007). MRI and fMRI studies have revealed alterations in brain structure (Pfefferbaum et al., 1997; Sullivan & Pfefferbaum, 2005; G. J. Harris et al., 2008) and brain activation differences during task performance (Braus et al., 2001; Tapert et al., 2001, 2004a; Grusser et al., 2004; Myrick et al., 2004; Heinz et al., 2007; Marinkovic et al., 2009; Trim et al., 2010; Paulus et al., 2012; Schuckit et al., 2012), which likely contribute to alcoholrelated cognitive deficits. For a comprehensive review of studies investigating adult alcohol dependent populations using a wide variety of non-invasive (MR) and invasive neuroimaging techniques (requiring exposure to ionizing radiation in the form of X-rays or injection with radioactive isotopes, e.g. "
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    ABSTRACT: There is a considerable body of literature demonstrating that adolescence is a unique age period, which includes rapid and dramatic maturation of behavioral, cognitive, hormonal and neurobiological systems. Most notably, adolescence is also a period of unique responsiveness to alcohol effects, with both hyposensitivity and hypersensitivity observed to the various effects of alcohol. Multiple neurotransmitter systems are undergoing fine-tuning during this critical period of brain development, including those that contribute to the rewarding effects of drugs of abuse. The role of developmental maturation of the γ-amino-butyric acid (GABA) system, however, has received less attention in contributing to age-specific alcohol sensitivities. This review integrates GABA findings from human magnetic resonance spectroscopy studies as they may translate to understanding adolescent-specific responsiveness to alcohol effects. Better understanding of the vulnerability of the GABA system both during adolescent development, and in psychiatric conditions that include alcohol dependence, could point to a putative mechanism, boosting brain GABA, that may have increased effectiveness for treating alcohol abuse disorders.
    Pharmacology [?] Therapeutics 08/2014; DOI:10.1016/j.pharmthera.2014.03.001 · 9.72 Impact Factor
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