The participants (N = 22) were 10 healthy, abstinent alcoholics (9 men) and 12 age-equivalent nonalcoholic controls (10 men). Cerebral blood flow was observed through the use of regionally specific computer-derived quantitative analysis of single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) perfusion images. Measures of alcohol use, abstinence and neuropsychological functioning were also obtained to relate to SPECT findings.
A positive relationship was observed between perfusion levels in the left inferior frontal brain region and years of sobriety. Alcoholics with less than 4 years of sobriety had significantly reduced left inferior frontal perfusion compared with both nonalcoholic controls and alcoholics having longer periods of sobriety.
The findings support the hypothesis that frontal brain abnormalities in alcoholics may subside with extended abstinence.
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