Reduced Cortical Thickness in Abstinent Alcoholics and Association with Alcoholic Behavior
Article first published online: 15 SEP 2011
Copyright © 2011 by the Research Society on Alcoholism
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Volume 35, Issue 12, pages 2193–2201, December 2011
How to Cite
Fortier, C. B., Leritz, E. C., Salat, D. H., Venne, J. R., Maksimovskiy, A. L., Williams, V., Milberg, W. P. and McGlinchey, R. E. (2011), Reduced Cortical Thickness in Abstinent Alcoholics and Association with Alcoholic Behavior. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 35: 2193–2201. doi: 10.1111/j.1530-0277.2011.01576.x
- Issue published online: 18 NOV 2011
- Article first published online: 15 SEP 2011
- Received for publication October 15, 2010; accepted April 11, 2011.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging;
- Cortical Thickness;
Background: Chronic misuse of alcohol results in widespread damage to the brain. Prior morphometric studies have examined cortical atrophy in individuals with alcoholism; however, no previous studies have examined alcohol-associated atrophy using cortical thickness measurements to obtain regional mapping of tissue loss across the full cortical surface.
Methods: We compared cortical thickness measures from 31 abstinent individuals with a history of prior alcohol abuse to 34 healthy nonalcoholic control participants (total sample size = 65). Cortical surface models were created from high-resolution T1-weighted images, and cortical thickness was then estimated as the distance between the gray matter/white matter boundary and the outer cortical surface.
Results: Abstinent alcoholics showed reduced whole-brain thickness as compared to nonalcoholic participants. Decreases in thickness were found bilaterally in (i) superior frontal, (ii) precentral, (iii) postcentral, (iv) middle frontal, (v) middle/superior temporal, (vi) middle temporal, and (vii) lateral occipital cortical regions. Decreased cortical thickness in the alcoholic group was associated with severity of alcohol abuse.
Conclusions: These findings demonstrate widespread reduction in cortical thickness as a consequence of chronic alcoholism, with most severe reductions in frontal and temporal brain regions.