Frontally Mediated Inhibitory Processing and White Matter Microstructure: Age and Alcoholism Effects


Colrain, I.M., Sullivan, E.V., Ford, J.M. et al. Frontally mediated inhibitory processing and white matter microstructure: age and alcoholism effects. Psychopharmacology 213, 669–679 (2011).



The NOGO P3 event-related potential is a sensitive marker of alcoholism, relates to EEG oscillation in the δ and θ frequency ranges, and reflects activation of an inhibitory processing network. Degradation of white matter tracts related to age or alcoholism should negatively affect the oscillatory activity within the network.


This study aims to evaluate the effect of alcoholism and age on δ and θ oscillations and the relationship between these oscillations and measures of white matter microstructural integrity.


Data from ten long-term alcoholics to 25 nonalcoholic controls were used to derive P3 from Fz, Cz, and Pz using a visual GO/NOGO protocol. Total power and across trial phase synchrony measures were calculated for δ and θ frequencies. DTI, 1.5 T, data formed the basis of quantitative fiber tracking in the left and right cingulate bundles and the genu and splenium of the corpus callosum. Fractional anisotropy and diffusivity (λL and λT) measures were calculated from each tract.


NOGO P3 amplitude and δ power at Cz were smaller in alcoholics than controls. Lower δ total power was related to higher λT in the left and right cingulate bundles. GO P3 amplitude was lower and GO P3 latency was longer with advancing age, but none of the time–frequency analysis measures displayed significant age or diagnosis effects.


The relation of δ total power at CZ with λT in the cingulate bundles provides correlational evidence for a functional role of fronto-parietal white matter tracts in inhibitory processing.

Keywords: Alcoholism, Age, P3, DTI, MRI, Inhibition, Electrophysiology

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