Alcoholism and sexual dimorphism in the middle longitudinal fascicle: a pilot study

Seitz J, Sawyer KS, Papadimitriou G, Oscar-Berman M, Ng I, Kubicki A, Mouradian P, Ruiz SM, Kubicki M, Harris GJ, Makris N

Brain Imaging Behav 2017 08;11(4):1006-1017

PMID: 27448160


Alcoholism can lead to a complex mixture of cognitive and emotional deficits associated with abnormalities in fronto-cortico-striatal-limbic brain circuitries. Given the broad variety of neurobehavioral symptoms, one would also expect alterations of postrolandic neocortical systems. Thus, we used diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to study the integrity of the middle longitudinal fascicle (MdLF), a major postrolandic association white matter tract that extends from the superior temporal gyrus to the parietal and occipital lobes, in individuals with a history of chronic alcohol abuse. DTI data were acquired on a 3 Tesla scanner in 30 abstinent alcoholics (AL; 9 men) and 25 nonalcoholic controls (NC; 8 men). The MdLF was determined using DTI-based tractography. Volume of the tract, fractional anisotropy (FA), radial (RD), and axial (AD) diffusivity, were compared between AL and NC, with sex and hemispheric laterality as independent variables. The association of DTI measures with neuropsychological performance was evaluated. Men showed bilateral reduction of MdLF volume and abnormal diffusion measurements of the left MdLF. Analyses also indicated that the left MdLF diffusion measurements in AL men were negatively associated with Verbal IQ and verbal fluency test scores. Abstinent alcoholic men display macrostructural abnormalities in the MdLF bilaterally, indicating an overall white matter deficit. Additionally, microstructural deficits of the left MdLF suggest more specific alterations associated with verbal skills in men.