NEW YORK, BRONX (ORDO News) — The remarkable regenerative capacity of the human brain following alcohol cessation has been a subject of investigation by American researchers, revealing insights into the timeline and extent of this recovery process.
Despite the World Health Organization (WHO) emphasizing the absence of a safe level of alcohol consumption due to its association with various diseases, including several types of cancer, the negative impact on the brain is a well-documented consequence. Individuals grappling with alcohol addiction often exhibit thinner areas in the cerebral cortex, the outer layer responsible for numerous higher cognitive functions.
While prior research has indicated the potential for recovery in specific brain regions upon abstaining from alcohol, the temporal dynamics and the comprehensive extent of this recovery remained unclear. A recent study, published in the journal Alcohol, led by psychiatrist and behavioral scientist Timothy Durazzo from Stanford University, sought to address this knowledge gap.
The study involved 88 participants with alcohol dependence, undergoing MRI scans at intervals of one week, one month, and 7.3 months after abstaining from alcohol. The participants included those who joined the study after one month of abstinence, with the entire study duration marked by abstinence for 40 participants. A control group of 45 non-smokers without alcohol dependence underwent MRI scans at the study’s outset and nine months later.
Utilizing the FreeSurfer computer program, the researchers assessed cortical thickness across 34 brain regions, averaging measurements across both hemispheres. Notably, the most substantial restoration of cortical thickness occurred after 7.3 months of alcohol cessation, with measurements in 24 of the 34 examined sites statistically equivalent to those in the control group.
Furthermore, the study unveiled a pattern of accelerated cortical layer thickness recovery during the initial month of abstinence, followed by a deceleration in subsequent periods. Factors such as high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels, and smoking correlated with slower recovery.
While the findings offer promising insights into the recovery of the brain post-alcohol cessation, the study’s limitations, including a relatively small and homogenous sample, underscore the need for larger and more diverse longitudinal studies. Additionally, the study did not explore the potential impact of cortical changes on overall brain function.
The researchers emphasized the necessity for future investigations to delve into the relationship between the restoration of cortical thickness during prolonged alcohol abstinence and neurocognitive and psychosocial parameters, highlighting the ongoing quest for a comprehensive understanding of the brain’s resilience and recovery mechanisms.
News agencies contributed to this report, edited and published by ORDO News editors.
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