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Brain Sci. 2018, 8(1), 9;

Behavioral and Brain Activity Indices of Cognitive Control Deficits in Binge Drinkers

Spatio-Temporal Brain Imaging Lab, Department of Psychology, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA 92120, USA
Department of Radiology, University of California, San Diego, CA 92039, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 6 November 2017 / Revised: 16 December 2017 / Accepted: 4 January 2018 / Published: 4 January 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Alcohol Induced Central Nervous System Damage)
PDF [1773 KB, uploaded 4 January 2018]


Heavy episodic drinking is prevalent among young adults and is a public issue of increasing importance. Its initiation and maintenance are associated with deficits in the capacity to inhibit automatic processing in favor of non-habitual responses. This study used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine behavioral and brain activity indices of cognitive control during the Stroop task as a function of binge drinking. Heavy episodic drinkers (HED) reported consuming 5+/6+ drinks in two hours at least five times in the past six months and were compared to light drinkers (LED) who reported two or fewer binge episodes but were matched on demographics, intelligence and family history of alcoholism. Greater conflict-induced activity in the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC) and thalamus was observed in HED participants and it was positively correlated with alcohol intake and alcohol-related harmful consequences. HEDs maintained intact accuracy but at a cost of prolonged reaction times to high-conflict trials and increased ratings of task difficulty. Greater activation of the areas implicated in cognitive control is consistent with compensatory network expansion to meet higher cognitive demands. These results provide further insight into degradation of cognitive control in HEDs which may benefit development of detection and prevention strategies. View Full-Text
Keywords: binge drinking; response conflict; Stroop; ventrolateral prefrontal cortex; thalamus binge drinking; response conflict; Stroop; ventrolateral prefrontal cortex; thalamus

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Molnar, S.M.; Beaton, L.E.; Happer, J.P.; Holcomb, L.A.; Huang, S.; Arienzo, D.; Marinkovic, K. Behavioral and Brain Activity Indices of Cognitive Control Deficits in Binge Drinkers. Brain Sci. 2018, 8, 9.

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