The effects of alcohol intoxication on neuronal activation at different levels of cognitive load
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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The aim of this study was to investigate how alcohol intoxication at two blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) affected neuronal activation during increasing levels of cognitive load. For this purpose we used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) together with a working memory n-back paradigm with three levels of difficulty. Twenty-five healthy male participants were scanned twice on two separate days. Participants in the control group (N=13) were scanned after drinking a soft-drink at both scanning sessions, while participants in the alcohol group (N=12) were scanned once after drinking an alcoholic beverage resulting in a BAC of 0.02%, and once after drinking an alcoholic beverage resulting in a BAC of 0.08%. A decrease in neuronal activation was seen in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) and in the cerebellum in the alcohol group at the BAC of 0.08% when the participants performed the most demanding task. The dACC is important in cognitive control, working memory, response inhibition, decision making and in error monitoring. The results have revealed that the effect of alcohol intoxication on brain activity is dependent on BAC and of cognitive load.