One of the effects of chronic alcoholism is the damage to the brain caused by long-term heavy drinking. Certain areas of the brain of alcoholics shrink, resulting in damage that leads to defects in brain function.
Brain imaging studies have shown that the prefrontal cortex (located in the front of the brain) and the cerebellar area (located in the back of the brain) are particularly susceptible to long-term alcohol abuse.
This means that long-term heavy drinking can impair the brain areas that control executive function (prefrontal cortex) and balance and postural stability (cerebellum).of
Alcohol can also cause damage to the white matter of the brain. Patients with relapsed alcohol use disorder tend to have reduced white matter. Sustained abstinence is associated with increased white matter in certain areas of the brain, including the corpus callosum and subcortical white matter.
Brain damage caused by alcoholism
As a result, chronic alcoholics will develop to the point where they are no longer able to walk in a straight line even if they are “awake” or standing on one foot, especially in the dark or with their eyes closed.
In addition, long-term alcoholics may have deficits in the executive function of the brain, which means they may have problems organizing objects, problem solving, multitasking, and working memory problems.of
Neuroinflammation is also considered to be a key part of the brain changes caused by alcohol use disorders.Studies have also shown that nutritional deficiencies caused by drinking can also affect the brain.
Scientific research on brain damage caused by alcoholism has consistently shown that deficits in executive and balance functions are much more serious than other components of brain function.
The circuit is also damaged by alcohol
A researcher at Stanford University School of Medicine speculates that the defects caused by prefrontal cortex and cerebellar lesions are complex, because the brain circuits that these two areas use to communicate with each other are also damaged by atrophy caused by alcohol abuse.
Information from the frontal cortex of the brain flows to the cerebellum through the pons, while information from the cerebellum flows to the frontal cortex through the thalamus.
Previous MRI studies of the brains of alcoholics have found significant capacity deficits in the cerebellar hemisphere and vermis, pons and thalamus, as well as the prefrontal, frontal, and parietal cortex.
Circuit defects complicate the problem
Studies have shown that alcohol use disorder can lead to insufficient circuit capacity. Studies have also shown that the interruption of these brain circuits may exacerbate the defects caused by the frontal cortex and cerebellum contraction due to the circuit interruption or abnormalities found in individual nodes themselves.
The cerebellum can significantly affect the function of the prefrontal cortex through brain circuits, which may explain why the lack of balance in alcoholics is a predictor of executive function loss.
The good news is that other studies have found that when people stop drinking, the brain atrophy caused by alcoholism starts to reverse itself.