As the economic cost of healthcare continues to rise in the United States, the issues related to alcohol abuse and dependence are becoming an increasing problem. Consequently, research addressing and treating alcohol abuse and dependence is instrumental to our understanding of the disease. By understanding the mechanisms that lead to alcohol dependence, medications and treatments can be better tailored to treating the disease. Chronic alcohol abuse is linked to reductions in brain activity, affecting two key neurotransmitters, GABA (-aminobutyric acid) and glutamate. While some of the mechanisms and physiological changes that lead to alcohol dependence are well understood, what is not clear is the time course in which these changes might occur. The time course is not understood partially because of reliance on rodent studies, which do not easily translate to humans due to differences in neurobiology and anatomy. In addition, studies in humans are typically done in clinical populations, which may not generalize to the general alcoholic population, many of whom are asymptomatic and do not seek treatment. Many current findings in alcohol research employ region- specific models to study alcohol. However, the brain is a complex system with multiple interacting components, which makes some findings difficult to interpret. The proposed study will address some of these critical issues found in alcohol research by utilizing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate the functional changes in non-human primates that have chronically self-administered ethanol. Using network theory of the brain to analyze our data, we plan to demonstrate that fMRI networks can be used to assess the changes in the brain brought about by alcohol dependence. During this study, we will use our well-validated animal model to help us understand the changes in the networks of vervet monkeys that have chronically self-administered ethanol, which may offer insight into the changes in the human brain that lead to alcohol dependence.
As the economic cost of healthcare continues to rise in the United States, the issues related to alcohol abuse and dependence are becoming an increasing problem. Consequently, research into the mechanisms underlying alcohol abuse and dependence is instrumental to our understanding of the disease. During this study, we will study the brain networks of non-human primates after ethanol induction to evaluate the changes in their whole-brain connectivity due to chronic alcohol exposure.
|Telesford, Qawi K; Laurienti, Paul J; Friedman, David P et al. (2013) The effects of alcohol on the nonhuman primate brain: a network science approach to neuroimaging. Alcohol Clin Exp Res 37:1891-900|