Episodic Memory in Detoxified Alcoholics: Contribution of Grey Matter Microstructure Alteration


Chanraud S, Leroy C, Martelli C, Kostogianni N, Delain F, Aubin H-J, et al. (2009) Episodic Memory in Detoxified Alcoholics: Contribution of Grey Matter Microstructure Alteration. PLoS ONE 4(8): e6786. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0006786


Even though uncomplicated alcoholics may likely have episodic memory deficits, discrepancies exist regarding to the integrity of brain regions that underlie this function in healthy subjects. Possible relationships between episodic memory and 1) brain microstructure assessed by magnetic resonance diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), 2) brain volumes assessed by voxel-based morphometry (VBM) were investigated in uncomplicated, detoxified alcoholics.

Diffusion and morphometric analyses were performed in 24 alcohol dependent men without neurological or somatic complications and in 24 healthy men. The mean apparent coefficient of diffusion (ADC) and grey matter volumes were measured in the whole brain. Episodic memory performance was assessed using a French version of the Free and Cued Selective Reminding Test (FCSRT). Correlation analyses between verbal episodic memory, brain microstructure, and brain volumes were carried out using SPM2 software.

In those with alcohol dependence, higher ADC was detected mainly in frontal, temporal and parahippocampal regions, and in the cerebellum. In alcoholics, regions with higher ADC typically also had lower grey matter volume. Low verbal episodic memory performance in alcoholism was associated with higher mean ADC in parahippocampal areas, in frontal cortex and in the left temporal cortex; no correlation was found between regional volumes and episodic memory scores. Regression analyses for the control group were not significant.

These findings support the hypothesis that regional microstructural but no macrostructural alteration of the brain might be responsible, at least in part, for episodic memory deficits in alcohol dependence.

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