Effects of abstinence and relapse upon neuropsychological function and cerebral glucose metabolism in severe chronic alcoholism

Doug Johnson-Greene, Kenneth M. Adams, Sid Gilman, Robert A. Koeppe, Larry Junck, Karen J. Kluin, Susan Martorello, Mary Heumann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Prolonged excessive consumption of alcohol has been associated with a variety of cognitive disorders accompanied by neuropathological and neurochemical abnormalities of the brain, particularly in the frontal lobes. Studies with positron emission tomography (PET) have shown decreased local cerebral metabolic rates for glucose (ICMRglc) in frontal regions, with correlated abnormalities on neuropsychological tests sensitive to executive functioning. This investigation was designed as a pilot study to examine the effects of abstinence and relapse in patients with severe chronic alcoholism studied longitudinally with PET and with neuropsychological evaluation to assess both general and executive functioning. Six patients, including 4 who remained relatively abstinent and 2 who relapsed following their initial evaluation, were studied twice, with inter-evaluation intervals ranging from 10 to 32 months. The patients who remained abstinent or who had minimal alcohol use showed partial recovery of ICMRglc in two of three divisions of the frontal lobes and improvement on neuropsychological tests of general cognitive and executive functioning, whereas the patients who relapsed had further declines in these areas. These results, although based upon a relatively small number of subjects, provide preliminary support for at least partial recovery of metabolic and cognitive functioning in individual patients who abstain from alcohol.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)378-385
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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