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Measuring brain activity for emotional markers that may indicate risk for developing alcoholism

  • New research uses an electroencephalogram (EEG) to look for a connection between brain activity thought to reflect trait-like differences in emotionality and alcoholism.
  • Findings show an asymmetry of activity in the left and right frontal areas of the brain.
  • The pattern of asymmetry found is similar to that found in individuals with depression.

Although prior research has looked at brain activity and alcoholism, much of it has focused on cortical activity as a marker for impulsivity among alcoholics. A new study examines measures of brain activity in the frontal regions of the brain, thought to reflect individual differences in emotionality, an important aspect of personality. The discovery of an imbalance of activity in the right and left frontal areas may indicate a dysregulation in brain systems that govern emotion and motivation.

Results are published in the December issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

"It is important to see how measures of personality and emotionality relate to alcohol dependence," said Elizabeth P. Hayden, assistant professor in clinical psychology at the University of Western Ontario and corresponding author for the study. "However, most studies of this question use self-report measures of personality and emotional experience. In this paper, we looked at measures of brain activity thought to reflect individual differences in emotional behavior to see whether these were different in a group with alcoholism and other problems [when] compared to control participants."

"An electroencephalogram or EEG is a test that measures electrical activity in the brain," added Emily Grekin, assistant professor of psychology at Wayne State University in Detroit. "Sometimes different brain areas show different patterns of electrical activity, a condition known as EEG asymmetry, which may be a marker of depression. Specifically, individuals with a history of de
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26-Nov-2006


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