Alcohol: Effects on Neurobehavioral Functions and the Brain

Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Boston University School of Medicine, L-815, 715 Albany Street, Boston, MA 02118, USA.
Neuropsychology Review (Impact Factor: 5.4). 10/2007; 17(3):239-57. DOI: 10.1007/s11065-007-9038-6
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Alcoholism results from an interplay between genetic and environmental factors, and is linked to brain defects and associated cognitive, emotional, and behavioral impairments. A confluence of findings from neuroimaging, physiological, neuropathological, and neuropsychological studies of alcoholics indicate that the frontal lobes, limbic system, and cerebellum are particularly vulnerable to damage and dysfunction. An integrative approach employing a variety of neuroscientific technologies is essential for recognizing the interconnectivity of the different functional systems affected by alcoholism. In that way, relevant experimental techniques can be applied to assist in determining the degree to which abstinence and treatment contribute to the reversal of atrophy and dysfunction.

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Available from: Marlene Oscar-Berman, Aug 24, 2015
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    • "In addition to atypical activation patterns in alcoholics, diminished volumes have been reported for brain structures associated with emotional and social functioning, such as orbitofrontal cortex, rostral anterior cingulate cortex, nucleus accumbens, amygdala, hippocampus, and insula (Makris et al., 2008; Wobrock et al., 2009). These regions, which are part of the " social brain " (Insel and Fernald, 2004) and neural circuitry underlying emotion and reward processing (Schulte et al., 2010), are disproportionately affected in alcoholism (Moselhy et al., 2001; Oscar-Berman and Marinkovic, 2007; Makris et al., 2008). In a study that examined the relationship between DTI-based fiber tracking and fMRI during an emotional Stroop task, Schulte et al. (2012b) found that alcoholics demonstrated poorer Stroop-word performance, suggesting higher emotional interference, and this performance was correlated with lower white-matter integrity in the cingulate and corpus callosum. "
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    ABSTRACT: Long-term chronic alcoholism is associated with disparate and widespread residual consequences for brain functioning and behavior, and alcoholics suffer a variety of cognitive deficiencies and emotional abnormalities. Alcoholism has heterogeneous origins and outcomes, depending upon factors such as family history, age, gender, and mental or physical health. Consequently, the neuropsychological profiles associated with alcoholism are not uniform among individuals. Moreover, within and across research studies, variability among participants is substantial and contributes to characteristics associated with differential treatment outcomes after detoxification. In order to refine our understanding of alcoholism-related impaired, spared, and recovered abilities, we focus on five specific functional domains: (1) memory, (2) executive functions, (3) emotion and psychosocial skills, (4) visuospatial cognition, and (5) psychomotor abilities. Although the entire brain might be vulnerable in uncomplicated alcoholism, the brain systems that are considered to be most at risk are the frontocerebellar and mesocorticolimbic circuitries. Over time, with abstinence from alcohol, the brain appears to become reorganized to provide compensation for structural and behavioral deficits. By relying on a combination of clinical and scientific approaches, future research will help to refine the compensatory roles of healthy brain systems, the degree to which abstinence and treatment facilitate the reversal of brain atrophy and dysfunction, and the importance of individual differences to outcome.
    Alcohol and the Nervous System: Handbook of Clinical Neurology, 1 edited by Adolf Pfefferbaum, Edith V. Sullivan, 12/2014: chapter 12: pages 183–210; Elsevier., ISBN: 9780444626196
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    • "Heavy alcohol consumption has been associated with deficits across several domains of cognition in adults (Oscar-Berman, 1990, 2000; Parsons & Nixon, 1998; Oscar-Berman & Marinkovic, 2003), with executive functioning and memory domains most vulnerable to disruptions by alcohol (Oscar-Berman & Ellis, 1987; Oscar-Berman & Marinkovic, 2007). 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). "
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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 · 7.75 Impact Factor
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    • "Apart from our ERP study (Marinkovic et al., 2004b) we are not aware of any other electrophysiological investigation of the effects of acute alcohol effects on word processing. Deficits in semantic processing in alcohol-dependent individuals are also insufficiently investigated in contrast to well documented impairments in the executive domain (Moselhy et al., 2001; Oscar-Berman and Marinkovic, 2007; Sullivan and Pfefferbaum, 2005). Even though some evidence suggests that verbal skills are relatively well preserved in individuals with alcohol dependence (Oscar-Berman and Schendan , 2000; Parsons, 1987), ERP studies indicate deficits in semantic processing. "
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    ABSTRACT: This study examined neurofunctional correlates of reading by modulating semantic, lexical, and orthographic attributes of letter strings. It compared the spatio-temporal activity patterns elicited by real words (RW), pseudowords, orthographically regular, pronounceable nonwords (PN) that carry no meaning, and orthographically illegal, nonpronounceable nonwords (NN). A double-duty lexical decision paradigm instructed participants to detect RW while ignoring nonwords and to additionally respond to words that refer to animals (AW). Healthy social drinkers (N=22) participated in both alcohol (0.6 g/kg ethanol for men, 0.55 g/kg for women) and placebo conditions in a counterbalanced design. Whole-head MEG signals were analyzed with an anatomically-constrained MEG method. Simultaneously acquired ERPs confirm previous evidence. Spatio-temporal MEG estimates to RW and PN are consistent with the highly replicable left-lateralized ventral visual processing stream. However, the PN elicit weaker activity than other stimuli starting at ∼230 ms and extending to the M400 (magnetic equivalent of N400) in the left lateral temporal area, indicating their reduced access to lexicosemantic stores. In contrast, the NN uniquely engage the right hemisphere during the M400. Increased demands on lexicosemantic access imposed by AW result in greater activity in the left temporal cortex starting at ∼230 ms and persisting through the M400 and response preparation stages. Alcohol intoxication strongly attenuates early visual responses occipito-temporally overall. Subsequently, alcohol selectively affects the left prefrontal cortex as a function of orthographic and semantic dimensions, suggesting that it modulates the dynamics of the lexicosemantic processing in a top-down manner, by increasing difficulty of semantic retrieval.
    Brain research 04/2014; 1558. DOI:10.1016/j.brainres.2014.02.030 · 2.83 Impact Factor
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