Date of Award
Master of Science
Krista M. Lisdahl
Chris L. Larson, Shawn P. Cahill
Alcohol Dependence, fMRI, Functional Connectivity, Stress, Stress Hormones
Little research has been conducted on neuronal stress processing in individuals
with alcohol dependence (AD). The present study examined neural stress response in AD individuals compared to controls using an fMRI stress task, assessing amygdala
activation and its connectivity to the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). Further, the study
analyzed the impact of hormone levels and subjective stress on frontal-limbic
Ten abstinent AD individuals and 11 controls were recruited. Subjects
participated in an fMRI stress task. A region of interest (amygdala) analysis was
conducted using area-under-the-curve. This activation was then examined in a whole brain functional connectivity analysis. Follow-up analyses investigated whether brain
activation could be predicted by cortisol, ACTH, and subjective stress.
As hypothesized, the present study found increased amygdala activation in the
AD group in comparison to controls, as well as decreased bilateral amygdala connectivity with the mPFC, as well as fronto-temporal and cerebellar regions. Hormone levels collected a year prior, but not subjective stress, predicted activation and connectivity.
Wright, Natasha E., "Alcohol Use Disorders and an fMRI Stress Task: A Connectivity Analysis" (2014). Theses and Dissertations. 780.