Neurocircuitry of Acute Alcohol Intoxication in Individuals at Familial Risk for Alcoholism
Having a family history of alcohol use disorder (AUD) increases one's likelihood of developing an AUD over one's lifetime. The mechanisms underlying this risk are unclear, but familial AUD-related differences in brain circuitry have been observed. Further, studies comparing the subjective responses to alcohol in family history-positive and family-history negative (FH+/FH-) individuals indicate that FH+ individuals report more stimulation and less sedation than FH- individuals. These subjective patterns of response are associated with the perpetuation of alcohol use. However, little is known about the relationship among alterations in brain circuitry across blood alcohol level, differing subjective effects, and underlying neurobiological differences in risk of an AUD.
To address this
knowledge gap, this project uses functional magnetic resonance imaging techniques. We will
compare patterns of functional brain connectivity in FH+ and FH- individuals, matched
for drinking history, across blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) during acute alcohol intoxication.
Functional connectivity magnetic resonance imaging (fcMRI) is being examined in relation to BAC in young adults. Subjects complete a brief
subjective effects questionnaire, so that subjective effects (stimulation,
sedation) can be recorded and related to fcMRI between specific brain regions.
Comparing functional connectivity underlying response to acute alcohol intake
across the BAC in the brains of at-risk, compared to lower risk, individuals
will provide useful information about the neurobiology of alcohol's actions and
interactive factors associated with abuse liability (subjective response),
which may ultimately inform intervention efforts.