Emotional dysregulation in alcoholism (ALC) may result from disturbed inhibitory mechanisms. We therefore tested emotion and alcohol cue reactivity and inhibitory processes using negative priming. To test the neural correlates of cue reactivity and negative priming, 26 ALC and 26 age-matched controls underwent functional MRI performing a Stroop color match-to-sample task. In cue reactivity trials, task-irrelevant emotion and alcohol-related pictures were interspersed between color samples and color words. In negative priming trials, pictures primed the semantic content of an alcohol or emotion Stroop word. Behaviorally, both groups showed response facilitation to picture cue trials and response inhibition to primed trials. For cue reactivity to emotion and alcohol pictures, ALC showed midbrain-limbic activation. By contrast, controls activated frontoparietal executive control regions. Greater midbrain-hippocampal activation in ALC correlated with higher amounts of lifetime alcohol consumption and higher anxiety. With negative priming, ALC exhibited frontal cortical but not midbrain-hippocampal activation, similar to the pattern observed in controls. Higher frontal activation to alcohol-priming correlated with less craving and to emotion-priming with fewer depressive symptoms. The findings suggest that neurofunctional systems in ALC can be primed to deal with upcoming emotion- and alcohol-related conflict and can overcome the prepotent midbrain-limbic cue reactivity response.
Brain Imaging and Behavior – Springer Journals
Published: Nov 4, 2016
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