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Frontal brain dysfunction in alcoholism with and without antisocial personality disorder

Authors Berman MO, Valmas MM, Sawyer KS, Kirkley SM, Gansler DA, Merritt D, Couture A

Published 25 May 2009 Volume 2009:5 Pages 309—326

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S4882

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 4


Marlene Oscar-Berman1,2, Mary M Valmas1,2, Kayle s Sawyer1,2, Shalene M Kirkley1, David A Gansler3, Diane Merritt1,2, Ashley Couture1

1Department of Veterans Affairs Healthcare System, Boston Campus, Boston, MA, USA; 2Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA; 3Suffolk University, Boston, MA, USA

Abstract: Alcoholism and antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) often are comorbid conditions. Alcoholics, as well as nonalcoholic individuals with ASPD, exhibit behaviors associated with prefrontal brain dysfunction such as increased impulsivity and emotional dysregulation. These behaviors can influence drinking motives and patterns of consumption. Because few studies have investigated the combined association between ASPD and alcoholism on neuropsychological functioning, this study examined the influence of ASPD symptoms and alcoholism on tests sensitive to frontal brain deficits. The participants were 345 men and women. Of them, 144 were abstinent alcoholics (66 with ASPD symptoms), and 201 were nonalcoholic control participants (24 with ASPD symptoms). Performances among the groups were examined with Trails A and B tests, the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test, the Controlled Oral Word Association Test, the Ruff Figural Fluency Test, and Performance subtests of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale. Measures of affect also were obtained. Multiple regression analyses showed that alcoholism, specific drinking variables (amount and duration of heavy drinking), and ASPD were significant predictors of frontal system and affective abnormalities. These effects were different for men and women. The findings suggested that the combination of alcoholism and ASPD leads to greater deficits than the sum of each.  

Keywords: alcoholism, antisocial personality disorder (ASPD), frontal brain system, neuropsychological deficits, reward system

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