Altered oscillatory brain dynamics of emotional processing in young binge drinkers

Altered oscillatory brain dynamics of emotional processing in young binge drinkers

Published in: Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience, Volume 18, Issue 1, 43-57

“Heavy episodic drinking, also termed binge drinking, is commonly practiced by young adults. It is accompanied by a range of cognitive, affective, and social problems, but the neural dynamics underlying changes in emotional functions is poorly understood. To investigate the behavioral and brain indices of affective processing as a function of binge drinking, young, healthy participants (23.3 ± 3.3 years) were assigned to two groups (n = 32 each) based on their drinking habits. Binge drinking (BD) participants reported drinking heavily with at least five binge episodes in the last 6 months, whereas light drinkers (LD) reported no more than one binge episode in the last 6 months. Participants provided subjective ratings of emotionally evocative images with negative, positive, erotic, and neutral themes mostly selected from the International Affective Picture System (IAPS). Electroencephalography (EEG) signal was recorded with a 64-channel system and analyzed in theta frequency band (4–7 Hz) with Morlet wavelets. Subjective ratings of the IAPS pictures were equivalent across both groups. However, affective modulation of event-related theta power both during early appraisal and later integrative processing stages was attenuated in BD, particularly those engaging in high-intensity drinking. These findings suggest that binge drinking is associated with altered neurophysiological indices of affective functions that are reflected in lower theta responsivity to emotions. The blunted long-range cortico-cortical and corticolimbic integration is consistent with compromised affective functions in alcohol use disorder. These findings may have implications for diagnostic and intervention strategies in heavy alcohol users.”

Written by: Siyuan Huang, Lee A. Holcomb, Stephen M. Cruz, Ksenija Marinkovic
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