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Alcohol’s Effects on the Brain: Neuroimaging Results in Humans and Animal Models

Brain imaging technology has allowed researchers to conduct rigorous studies of the dynamic course of alcoholism through periods of drinking, sobriety, and relapse and to gain insights into the effects of chronic alcoholism on the human brain. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies have distinguished alcohol-related brain effects that are permanent from those that are reversible with abstinence...

Utilization of Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Research Involving Animal Models of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

Neuroimaging, particularly magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), has begun to tease apart the underlying mechanisms behind alcohol’s deleterious effects on the fetus and eventually may lead to earlier detection of what can be devastating child neurodevelopmental deficits. In 1968, researchers first reported an association between prenatal alcohol exposure and what can be persistent adverse cognitive...

Translating Alcohol Research Into Practice - Editor's Note

Translational research helps move basic science and clinical laboratory discoveries toward application in health and medicine. Through controlled experiments, basic scientists use animal models to reproduce disease characteristics caused by an agent—in this case, excessively high exposure to alcohol. Through systematic study and observation, clinical research scientists identify symptomatic and...

The Effects of Stress on Alcohol Consumption

This issue of Alcohol Research: Current Reviews focuses on the impact of stress on alcohol consumption. The significance of stress on alcohol abuse recently has been reemphasized by the alcohol use problems following posttraumatic stress disorder, such as those seen with some combat veterans. Behavior is described as an interaction between genetic constitution and environmental influences. Of the...

Translating Alcohol Research: Opportunities and Challenges

More than 20 years ago, Daniel Koshland compared basic with applied research, stating: “Basic research is the type that is not always practical but often leads to great discoveries. Applied research refines these discoveries into useful products” (Koshland 1993). This statement implies that basic science does not have a direct impact on human health and disease or patient outcome but offers the...

Common Biological Mechanisms of Alcohol Use Disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and alcohol use disorder (AUD) are highly comorbid. Although recent clinical studies provide some understanding of biological and subsequent behavioral changes that define each of these disorders, the neurobiological basis of interactions between PTSD and AUD has not been well-understood. In this review, we summarize the relevant animal models that parallel...

Neuroplasticity and Predictors of Alcohol Recovery

Recovery from alcoholism is a complex and long-term process with high relapse rates. Therefore, understanding why people relapse has been critically important to improving treatment outcomes. To that end, researchers are looking for clinical and biological markers that predict relapse after treatment and to use those risk factors to develop effective treatments to reduce relapse rates. One...

Advances in Human Neuroconnectivity Research: Applications for Understanding Familial History Risk for Alcoholism

Advances in human neuroimaging have expanded our ability to understand the functioning of the brain, with particular recent advances fostering our analytic capacity to examine networks between the brain’s nerve cells (i.e., neurons) and neuroconnectivity (i.e., neural networks). Relevant to the field of alcoholism, several researchers recently have applied these strategies to groups at genetic...

Alcohol and Cannabis Use and the Developing Brain

Introduction

Adolescence is marked by significant social, emotional, cognitive, and physical changes, as individuals transition from childhood to adulthood. Although the exact definition of adolescence tends to vary, recent findings regarding adolescent development and growth include individuals between the ages of 10 and 24.1 Consistent with this defined age range, the human brain continues to...

Alcohol's Unique Effects on Cognition in Women: A 2020 (Re)view to Envision Future Research and Treatment

Alcohol use and misuse is increasing among women. Although the prevalence of drinking remains higher in men than women, the gender gap is narrowing. This narrative review focuses on the cognitive sequelae of alcohol consumption in women. Studies of acute alcohol effects on cognition indicate that women typically perform worse than men on tasks requiring divided attention, memory, and decision...