Cumulative Effects of Long Term Alcohol on Brain Function

Functional MRI (fMRI), a type of scan that measures brain activity, has enabled study of the impact of alcohol on brain function. This type of imaging allows brain activity to be assessed while participants are at rest, performing a simple task like tapping a finger, or doing a complex cognitive task like a memory task or decision-making. It works by detecting the change in blood flow that occurs when brain cells (or neurons) in different parts of the brain are activated. Blood flow provides the energy and oxygen needed for brain cells to activate, and it is this exchange of oxygen that is measured using fMRI and is reflected by brain blood flow. Complicated physics are involved in determining the profile of blood flow when a part of the brain is activated, and studies have shown that the time course of these changes – known as the hemodynamic response function (HRF) – is affected by acute alcohol consumption. However, the effects of heavy chronic (long-term) alcohol consumption on HRF

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