Neural impact of low-level alcohol use on response inhibition: An fMRI investigation in young adults

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It is widely known that alcohol consumption adversely affects human health, particularly in the immature developing brains of adolescents and young adults, which may also have a long-lasting impact on executive functioning. The present study investigated the neural activity of 28 young adults from the Ottawa Prenatal Prospective Study (OPPS) using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The purpose of this study was to discover the impact of regular low-level alcohol consumption on response inhibition as the participants performed a Go/No-Go task. Results indicated that, despite a lack of performance differences, young adults who use alcohol on a regular basis differ significantly from those who do not use alcohol regularly (if at all) with respect to their neural activity as the circuitry engaged in response inhibition is being challenged. Specifically, areas that showed significantly more activation in users compared to controls included the left hippocampus, parahippocampal gyrus, superior frontal gyrus, precentral gyrus, right superior parietal lobule, and the cerebellum. These results suggest that even in low amounts, regular consumption of alcohol may have a significant impact on neurophysiological functioning during response inhibition in the developing brain of youth.

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