Brain function during cognitive flexibility and white matter integrity in alcohol-dependent patients, problematic drinkers and healthy controls.
Jansen, Jochem M.
Holst, Ruth J.
Veltman, Dick J.
Caan, Matthan W. A.
Goudriaan, Anna E.
BRAIN function localization
WHITE matter (Nerve tissue)
ALCOHOL Dependence Scale
Addiction Biology; Sep2015, Vol. 20 Issue 5, p979-989, 11p
Cognitive flexibility has been associated with prefrontal white matter ( WM) integrity in healthy controls ( HCs), showing that lower WM integrity is associated with worse performance. Although both cognitive flexibility and WM integrity have been found to be aberrant in alcohol-dependent ( AD) patients, the relationship between the two has never been tested. In this study, we investigated the association between WM tract density and cognitive flexibility in patients with AD ( n = 26) and HCs ( n = 22). In order to assess the influence of AD severity, we also included a group of problematic drinkers ( PrDs; n = 23) who did not meet the AD criteria. Behavioral responses and brain activity during a cognitive flexibility task were measured during functional magnetic resonance imaging. Probabilistic fiber tracking was performed between the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the basal ganglia; two crucial regions for task switching. Finally, the task-related functional connectivity between these areas was assessed. There were no significant group differences in the task performance. However, compared with HCs, AD patients and PrDs showed decreased WM integrity and increased prefrontal brain activation during task switching. Evidence is presented for a compensatory mechanism, involving recruitment of additional prefrontal resources in order to compensate for WM and neural function impairments in AD patients and PrDs. Although present in both alcohol groups, the PrDs were more successful in invoking this compensatory mechanism when compared to the AD patients. We propose that this may therefore serve as a protective factor, precluding transition from problematic drinking into alcohol dependence. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
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