Levin JM; Ross MH; Mendelson JH; Kaufman MJ; Lange N; Maas LC; Mello NK; Cohen BM; Renshaw PF.
Laboratory for Cerebral Blood Flow, McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA 02178, USA
FREE Help Line: 800-662-2873
Addiction assessment & referral counselors are available.
Don't wait any longer...
Make the call that can change you and your loved ones' lives forever! It's a FREE call.
The physiology of alcohol's effects on brain function is poorly understood. Emission tomographic imaging has revealed both acute and chronic alterations in resting cerebral hemodynamics and metabolism following alcohol ingestion. However, cerebral functional integrity under these conditions has received less attention. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) offers a non-invasive method for assessing brain functional activation. In order to assess its utility for studying the effect of alcohol on brain function, we performed fMRI with photic stimulation before and after administration of either 0.7 mg/kg alcohol (N = 12) or placebo (N = 5), resulting in peak breath alcohol levels averaging 0.069 g/dl. We found that the amplitude of visual cortical activation in response to photic stimulation was significantly reduced by approximately 33% following alcohol administration (4.0 +/- 1.7% vs. 2.7 +/- 1.3%, P = 0.02), but not following placebo (4.2 +/- 1.5% vs. 4.1 +/- 1.4%, P = 0.7). The results also suggest that the baseline right hemispheric predominance of activation in response to photic stimulation may be reduced following alcohol, suggesting a greater effect on the right hemisphere, consistent with previous studies and alcohol's known effects on visuospatial processing. In addition, through the course of each activation session, there was a progressive reduction in response following alcohol. These data demonstrate that the cerebral effects of alcohol intoxication can be studied with fMRI, and that the effects on brain function of even moderate alcohol intoxication may be widespread, may be lateralized, and may include the visual system.