Mismatch Negativity and Auditory Sensory Memory in Chronic Alcoholics

Authors

  • M. Dolores Polo,

    1. Neurodynarnics Laboratory, Department of Psychiatry and Clinical Psychobiology, University of Barcelona (M.D.P., C.E., C.G.); and the Alcoholism Unit of the Generalitat de Catalunya, Hospital Clínic de Barcelona (A.G.), Catalonia, Spain.
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  • Carles Escera,

    Corresponding author
    1. Neurodynarnics Laboratory, Department of Psychiatry and Clinical Psychobiology, University of Barcelona (M.D.P., C.E., C.G.); and the Alcoholism Unit of the Generalitat de Catalunya, Hospital Clínic de Barcelona (A.G.), Catalonia, Spain.
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  • Antoni Gual,

    1. Neurodynarnics Laboratory, Department of Psychiatry and Clinical Psychobiology, University of Barcelona (M.D.P., C.E., C.G.); and the Alcoholism Unit of the Generalitat de Catalunya, Hospital Clínic de Barcelona (A.G.), Catalonia, Spain.
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  • Carles Grau

    1. Neurodynarnics Laboratory, Department of Psychiatry and Clinical Psychobiology, University of Barcelona (M.D.P., C.E., C.G.); and the Alcoholism Unit of the Generalitat de Catalunya, Hospital Clínic de Barcelona (A.G.), Catalonia, Spain.
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  • This research was supported by BIOMED-2 contract BMH4-CT96–0819-COBRAIN of the European Union, Grants DGES-UE96–0038, PM95–0063 from the Spanish Ministry of Education and Culture, and 1996XT-00036/1998XT-00046 from the Generalitat of Catalunya.

  • The authors thank Kimmo Alho and Elena Yago for their valuable comments, and Intoximeters Inc. and S.A. Rasfer for lending us the breathalyser RBT IV model used in the study.

Reprint requests: Carles Escera, Ph.D., Neurodynamics Laboratory, Department of Psychiatry and Clinical Psychobiology, University of Barcelona, Passeig Vall d'Hebron 171, 08035 Barcelona, Catalonia-Spain; Fax: 34-93-403-4424; E-mail: cescera@psi.ub.es

Abstract

Background & Methods

: Preattentive auditory processing and sensory memory were investigated by means of mismatch negativity (MMN) in a sample of 22 middle-aged abstinent chronic alcoholics and 25 age-matched healthy controls. Stimuli were presented at two inter-stimulus intervals (ISIs, 0.75 sec and 2.0 sec) in separate blocks.

Results

: No significant differences in amplitude or latency of MMN were found between aicoholic and control subjects in either of the two ISI conditions. However, when age was included as a factor in the analysis, MMN amplitude was attenuated in chronic alcoholics who were older than 40 years of age.

Conclusions

: These results indicate that the automatic stimulus-change detector mechanism associated with MMN gencration is impaired in chronic alcoholics over the age of 40, suggesting that the neurotoxic effects of chronic consumption of alcohol are more prone to appear after a critical age.

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