Diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging at 3.0 Tesla in alcohol intoxication

Psychiatry Res. 2008 May 30;163(1):52-60. doi: 10.1016/j.pscychresns.2007.09.003. Epub 2008 Mar 18.


Acute alcohol intake has pronounced effects on brain function. However, the exact mechanism of action is unclear. Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging (dwMRI) can detect subtle changes in microstructural neural states. Here we tested if dwMRI can detect such changes during alcohol intoxication. We used high-field dwMRI in four healthy subjects at different blood alcohol concentration (0.0 g/L, 0.3 g/L, 0.6 g/L and 1.0 g/L). Although neuropsychological performances declined markedly, no changes in diffusion parameters emerged. First, this finding argues against alcohol-induced diffuse changes of microstructural state and in favour of more specific, possibly receptor-mediated actions of alcohol on brain function. Second, processes involving neurotransmitters that are primarily linked to cognitive function might not be viewable with high-field diffusion MRI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / physiopathology*
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / psychology
  • Arousal / drug effects
  • Arousal / physiology
  • Attention / drug effects
  • Attention / physiology
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Ethanol / blood*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted*
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Psychomotor Performance / drug effects
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology


  • Ethanol