Brain shrinkage in alcoholics: a decade on and what have we learned?

Prog Neurobiol. 1999 Jul;58(4):381-7. doi: 10.1016/s0301-0082(98)00091-4.


Brain atrophy in alcoholics has been identified using both radiological and pathological techniques. However the magnitude and topography of the atrophy, and the factors which contribute to it, are unclear. This review compares the results of imaging and pathological studies in alcoholics examining variables which may contribute to any discrepancies. We conclude that significant brain damage does occur as a result of alcohol abuse per se, that the damage is regionally specific with the frontal lobes being particularly affected, and that both grey matter and white matter components are damaged.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcoholism / pathology*
  • Atrophy
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Brain Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Brain Diseases / pathology
  • Chronic Disease
  • Humans