Reduced Amygdala Activation in Young Adults at High Risk of Alcoholism: Studies from the Oklahoma Family Health Patterns Project

David C. Glahn, William R. Lovallo, Peter T. Fox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

89 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Risk of alcoholism is higher in those with a positive family history (FH+) and in those showing behavioral disinhibition, possibly reflecting altered limbic system function. Methods: We performed functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in 17 nonabusing young adults, 9 with FH+ and high in disinhibition versus 8 with a negative family history (FH-) and low in disinhibition. We probed limbic system reactivity with a recognition task using faces expressing fear versus geometric objects. Results: Subjects with FH- had robust activation to the faces in the region of the right and left amygdalar complexes (p's < .05), while subjects with FH+ had no such activation (p's > .46). The blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) signal in the region of the amygdala was correlated with scores on the self-report measure of temperament in the combined groups (r = .51, p < .04). Conclusions: Behaviorally disinhibited temperament, found in many with FH+, may be associated with amygdalar hyporesponsiveness and a failure to avoid risky decisions, increasing the person's liability for alcohol abuse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1306-1309
Number of pages4
JournalBiological Psychiatry
Volume61
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2007

Keywords

  • Alcoholism
  • amygdala
  • behavioral disinhibition
  • fMRI
  • risk factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry

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