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Journal Article


Schuckit MA, Tapert S, Matthews SC, Paulus MP, Tolentino NJ, Smith TL, Trim RS, Hall S, Simmons A. Alcohol Clin. Exp. Res. 2012; 36(1): 130-140.


Department of Psychiatry (MAS, ST, SCM, MPP, NJT, TLS, RST, SH, AS), University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California.


(Copyright © 2012, John Wiley and Sons)








Background:  A low level of response (i.e., a low LR) to alcohol is a genetically influenced phenotype that predicts later alcoholism. While the low LR reflects, at least in part, a low brain response to alcohol, the physiological underpinnings of the low LR have only recently been addressed. Methods:  Forty-nine drinking but not yet alcoholic matched pairs of 18- to 25-year-old subjects (N = 98; 53% women) with low and high LRs as established in separate alcohol challenges were evaluated in 2 event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) sessions (placebo and approximately 0.7 ml/kg of alcohol) while performing a validated stop signal task. The high and low LR groups had identical blood alcohol levels during the alcohol session. Results:  Significant high versus low LR group and LR group × condition effects were observed in blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) signal during error and inhibitory processing, despite similar LR group performance on the task. In most clusters with significant (corrected p < 0.05, clusters > 1,344 μl) LR group × alcohol/placebo condition interactions, the low LR group demonstrated relatively less, whereas the high LR group demonstrated more, error and inhibition-related activation after alcohol compared with placebo. Conclusions:  This is one of the first fMRI studies to demonstrate significant differences between healthy groups with different risks of a future life-threatening disorder. The results may suggest a brain mechanism that contributes to how a low LR might enhance the risk of future heavy drinking and alcohol dependence.

Language: en


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