The extant literature supports the involvement of the thalamus in the cognitive and motor impairment associated with chronic alcohol consumption, but clear structure/function relationships remain elusive. Alcohol effects on specific nuclei rather than the entire thalamus may provide the basis for differential cognitive and motor decline in Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). This functional MRI (fMRI) study was conducted in 23 abstinent individuals with AUD and 27 healthy controls to test the hypothesis that functional connectivity between anterior thalamus and hippocampus would be compromised in those with an AUD diagnosis and related to mnemonic deficits. Functional connectivity between 7 thalamic structures [5 thalamic nuclei: anterior ventral (AV), mediodorsal (MD), pulvinar (Pul), ventral lateral posterior (VLP), and ventral posterior lateral (VPL); ventral thalamus; the entire thalamus] and 14 “functional regions” was evaluated. Relative to controls, the AUD group exhibited different VPL-based functional connectivity: an anticorrelation between VPL and a bilateral middle temporal lobe region observed in controls became a positive correlation in the AUD group; an anticorrelation between the VPL and the cerebellum was stronger in the AUD than control group. AUD-associated altered connectivity between anterior thalamus and hippocampus as a substrate of memory compromise was not supported; instead, connectivity differences from controls selective to VPL and cerebellum demonstrated a relationship with impaired balance. These preliminary findings support substructure-level evaluation in future studies focused on discerning the role of the thalamus in AUD-associated cognitive and motor deficits.
- Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)
- Thalamic nuclei
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Pharmacology (medical)