Reduced hippocampal volume among adolescents with alcohol use disorders without psychiatric comorbidity

Psychiatry Res. 2005 Aug 30;139(3):181-90. doi: 10.1016/j.pscychresns.2005.05.008.


Studies have suggested that teens with alcohol use disorder (AUD) can demonstrate memory deficits, but the underlying neuroanatomical substrates are unclear. The hippocampus is crucial to intact memory functioning, and it actively develops during adolescence. The current study attempted to replicate and extend previous findings suggesting that adolescents with AUD show smaller hippocampal volumes than healthy adolescents. Manual tracings of bilateral hippocampi were performed on structural magnetic resonance images of 14 adolescents (ages 15 to 17 years) with AUD and 17 healthy comparison teens. Intracranial, white, and gray matter volumes, as well as memory abilities, were also measured. Results revealed that adolescents with AUD had significantly smaller left hippocampal volumes than healthy teens, even after removal of teens with comorbid conduct disorder from the analyses. In contrast the groups did not differ in right hippocampal, intracranial, gray or white matter volumes, or memory performance. Hippocampal volumes were not related to alcohol-consumption rates. These findings indicate that adolescents with AUD, but free from other psychiatric comorbidities, have reduced left hippocampal volume. Because hippocampal volume did not relate to alcohol use characteristics, it is possible that premorbid volumetric differences could account for some of the observed group differences in hippocampal volume.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Alcoholism / diagnosis
  • Alcoholism / epidemiology*
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cognition Disorders / epidemiology
  • Demography
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Hippocampus / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests