Article

Why we like to drink: A functional magnetic resonance imaging study of the rewarding and anxiolytic effects of alcohol

Laboratory of Clinical and Translational Studies, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.
The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 6.75). 05/2008; 28(18):4583-91. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0086-08.2008
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT People typically drink alcohol to induce euphoria or reduce anxiety, and they frequently drink in social settings, yet the effect of alcohol on human brain circuits involved in reward and emotion has been explored only sparingly. We administered alcohol intravenously to social drinkers while brain response to visual threatening and nonthreatening facial stimuli was measured using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Alcohol robustly activated striatal reward circuits while attenuating response to fearful stimuli in visual and limbic regions. Self-ratings of intoxication correlated with striatal activation, suggesting that activation in this area may contribute to subjective experience of pleasure and reward during intoxication. These results show that the acute pharmacological rewarding and anxiolytic effects of alcohol can be measured with fMRI.

2 Bookmarks
 · 
97 Views
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Alcohol consumption is one of the most problematic and widespread forms of risk taking in adolescence. It has been hypothesized that sex hormones such as testosterone play an important role in risk taking by influencing the development of brain networks involved in emotion and motivation, particularly the amygdala and its functional connections. Connectivity between the amygdala and the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) may be specifically related to alcohol use, given the association of this tract with top-down control over behavioral approach tendencies. In line with this, prior studies in adults indicate a link between alcohol use and functional connectivity between the amygdala and the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), as well as between testosterone and amygdala-OFC connectivity. We consolidated these research lines by investigating the association between alcohol use, testosterone and resting state functional brain connectivity within one large-scale adolescent sample (n=173, aged 12-25 years). Mediation analyses demonstrated an indirect effect of testosterone levels on alcohol use through amygdala-OFC intrinsic functional connectivity, but only in boys. That is, increased testosterone in boys was associated with reduced amygdala-OFC connectivity, which in turn was associated with increased alcohol intake. This study is the first to demonstrate the interplay between adolescent alcohol use, sex hormones and brain mechanisms, thus taking an important step to increase our understanding of the mechanisms behind this form of adolescent risk-taking. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Psychoneuroendocrinology 01/2015; 53C:117-126. DOI:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2015.01.004 · 5.59 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The insula, a structure involved in higher order representation of interoceptive states, has recently been implicated in drug craving and social stress. Here, we performed brain magnetic resonance imaging to measure volumes of the insula and amygdala, a structure with reciprocal insular connections, in 26 alcohol-dependent patients and 24 healthy volunteers (aged 22-56 years, nine females in each group). We used an established morphometry method to quantify total and regional insular volumes. Volumetric measurements of the amygdala were obtained using a model-based segmentation/registration tool. In alcohol-dependent patients, anterior insula volumes were bilaterally reduced compared to healthy volunteers (left by 10%, right by 11%, normalized to total brain volumes). Furthermore, alcohol-dependent patients, compared with healthy volunteers, had bilaterally increased amygdala volumes. The left amygdala was increased by 28% and the right by 29%, normalized to total brain volumes. Post-mortem studies of the anterior insula showed that the reduced anterior insular volume may be associated with a population of von Economo neurons, which were 60% diminished in subjects with a history of alcoholism (n = 6) as compared to subjects without a history of alcoholism (n = 6) (aged 32-56 years, all males). The pattern of neuroanatomical change observed in our alcohol-dependent patients might result in a loss of top-down control of amygdala function, potentially contributing to impaired social cognition as well as an inability to control negatively reinforced alcohol seeking and use.
    Brain 11/2014; 138(1). DOI:10.1093/brain/awu305 · 10.23 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Objective: The goal of this meta-analysis was to examine whether long-term physical exercise could be a potential effective treatment for substance use disorders (SUD). Methods: The PubMed, Web of Science, Elsevier, CNKI and China Info were searched for randomized controlled trials (RCT) studies in regards to the effects of physical exercise on SUD between the years 1990 and 2013. Four main outcome measures including abstinence rate, withdrawal symptoms, anxiety, and depression were evaluated. Results: Twenty-two studies were integrated in the meta-analysis. The results indicated that physical exercise can effectively increase the abstinence rate (OR = 1.69 (95% CI: 1.44, 1.99), z = 6.33, p < 0.001), ease withdrawal symptoms (SMD = -1.24 (95% CI: -2.46, -0.02), z = -2, p < 0.05), and reduce anxiety (SMD = -0.31 (95% CI: -0.45, -0.16), z = -4.12, p < 0.001) and depression (SMD = -0.47 (95% CI: -0.80, -0.14), z = -2.76, p < 0.01). The physical exercise can more ease the depression symptoms on alcohol and illicit drug abusers than nicotine abusers, and more improve the abstinence rate on illicit drug abusers than the others. Similar treatment effects were found in three categories: exercise intensity, types of exercise, and follow-up periods. Conclusions: The moderate and high-intensity aerobic exercises, designed according to the Guidelines of American College of Sports Medicine, and the mind-body exercises can be an effective and persistent treatment for those with SUD.
    PLoS ONE 10/2014; 9(10):e110728. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0110728 · 3.53 Impact Factor

Full-text

Download
61 Downloads
Available from
May 27, 2014