Neuropsychological deficits are correlated with frontal hypometabolism in positron emission tomography studies of older alcoholic patients

Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 1993 Apr;17(2):205-10. doi: 10.1111/j.1530-0277.1993.tb00750.x.


In an extension of previous work, we studied the behavioral correlates of medial frontal lobe glucose hypometabolism in chronically alcohol-dependent patients. Thirty-one male patients who were detoxified, medically stable, and free of other central nervous system risk factors for neuropsychological impairment were examined with (1) anatomic imaging (CT or MR), (2) functional imaging with [18F] fluorodeoxyglucose (18F-FDG) and positron emission tomography (PET), and (3) a battery of neuropsychological tests, including two measures of abstraction known to be generally sensitive to frontal lobe disease or dysfunction [the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST) and the Halstead Category Test (HCT)]. 18F-FDG PET data from 18 age- and sex-matched normal control subjects were used for comparison. All patients met criteria for severe alcohol dependence and for at least a mild degree of alcoholic-induced cognitive impairment. Although the mean IQ level of the alcoholic patients was in the average range, the concepts attained and the error scores on the WCST and HCT were significantly impaired in comparison with established norms. Local cerebral metabolic rate for glucose (LCMRglc) was significantly decreased in a sagittal strip of the medial frontal cortex in the alcoholic patients as compared with the normal controls. Comparison of data from PET scans and anatomic images indicated that the reduced LCMRglc could not be attributed to reduced amounts of tissue alone. A statistically significant relationship was found between LCMRglc in the medial frontal region of the cerebral cortex and performance on the WCST, but not the HCT. These findings suggest that chronic alcohol intake results in impaired function of cerebral tissue in the medial frontal region.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcoholism / diagnostic imaging*
  • Alcoholism / psychology
  • Alcoholism / rehabilitation
  • Atrophy
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Deoxyglucose / analogs & derivatives
  • Deoxyglucose / metabolism
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18
  • Frontal Lobe / diagnostic imaging*
  • Frontal Lobe / pathology
  • Gyrus Cinguli / diagnostic imaging
  • Gyrus Cinguli / pathology
  • Humans
  • Intelligence / physiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests*
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed*
  • Veterans* / psychology
  • Wechsler Scales


  • Blood Glucose
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18
  • Deoxyglucose