Food and Behaviour Research

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The Brain of Binge Drinkers at Rest: Alterations in Theta and Beta Oscillations in First-Year College Students with a Binge Drinking Pattern

López-Caneda E, Cadaveira F, Correas A, Crego A, Maestú F, Holguín SR (2017) Front. Behav. Neurosci. Sept 2017 

Web URL: Read the abstract and full study on Frontiers here


Background: Previous studies have reported anomalous resting brain activity in the electroencephalogram (EEG) of alcoholics, often reflected as increased power in the beta and theta frequency bands. The effects of binge drinking, the most common pattern of excessive alcohol consumption during adolescence and youth, on brain activity at rest is still poorly known. In this study, we sought to assess the pattern of resting-state EEG oscillations in college-aged binge drinkers (BDs).

Methods: Resting-state brain activity during eyes-open and eyes-closed conditions was recorded from 60 channels in 80 first-year undergraduate students (40 controls and 40 BDs). Cortical sources activity of EEG rhythms was estimated using exact Low-Resolution Electromagnetic Tomography (eLORETA) analysis.

Results: EEG-source localization analysis revealed that BDs showed, in comparison with controls, significantly higher intracranial current density in the beta frequency band over the right temporal lobe (parahippocampal and fusiform gyri) during eyes-open resting state as well as higher intracranial current density in the theta band over the bilateral occipital cortex (cuneus and lingual gyrus) during eyes-closed resting condition.

Conclusions: These findings are in line with previous results observing increased beta and/or theta power following chronic or heavy alcohol drinking in alcohol-dependent subjects and BDs. Increased tonic beta and theta oscillations are suggestive of an augmented cortical excitability and of potential difficulties in the information processing capacity in young BDs. Furthermore, enhanced EEG power in these frequency bands may respond to a neuromaturational delay as a result of excessive alcohol consumption during this critical brain developmental period.