1.5 CE Credit
Edith V. Sullivan, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences
Stanford University School of Medicine
Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) is a highly prevalent neuropsychiatric disorder that affects both sexes across the lifespan. Chronic, excessive drinking often results in serious untoward consequences on family, work, and personal well-being. AUD is marked by a characteristic profile of neuropsychological deficits and damage to selective constellations of neurocircuitry. AUD is often heralded by early life alcohol misuse, which can alter normal neurodevelopmental trajectories. With sustained sobriety in adult AUD, brain structural and functional recovery can ensue. This lecture describes acquisition and measurement approaches used in quantitative neuroimaging and neuropsychological studies for tracking alcoholism's dynamic course of relapse and sobriety. Also considered are modulating factors, including age, sex, nutrition, and common comorbidities. Whether alcohol-related functional impairment in older individuals with AUD constitutes dementia will also be considered. The studies reviewed are controlled and provide evidence for human neuroadaptation and neuroplasticity and hope for recovery in alcoholics who maintain sobriety.
After the session, participants will be able to:
1. Define alcoholism and explain how alcohol use disorder disrupts selective brain structures and functions and can cause aberrations in neurodevelopmental trajectories.
2. Describe how alcoholism-related functional brain changes across the ages are a form of neuroadaptation that may underlie dysfunctions, making alcoholism a self-perpetuating disorder.
3. Discuss how sustained sobriety can result in improvement in brain structure and function.
4. Explain how alcoholism-related brain structural and functional damage might alter self-perception and readiness for treatment.
Research and clinical neuropsychologists, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows
Edith V. Sullivan, Ph.D.
, is a professor in the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine where she has been mentoring students and conducting research for the past 30 years. Dr. Sullivan’s background as an experimental neuropsychologist and brain imaging scientist led to the development of her program of study in alcoholism, focusing on faulty frontocerebellar circuitry underlying a selective subset of cognitive and motor dysfunctions commonly expressed in alcoholism. Her ongoing work focuses on neural mechanisms of structural and functional connectivity underlying cognitive and motor processes in human alcoholism, animal models of high alcohol exposure in interaction with nutritional deficiencies, and how comorbidities of HIV infection along with normal aging compound the throes of alcoholism on brain structure, function, and neural circuitry. Dr. Sullivan is also an investigator on the National Consortium on Alcohol and NeuroDevelopment in Adolescence (NCANDA), which is a prospective multi-site study aimed at determining the developmental trajectories of brain conjunction with the neuropsychological and emotional development of adolescents before and after initiating drinking. Dr. Sullivan is the author of more than 300 peer-reviewed papers, as well as many chapters and reviews and has presented her alcoholism research nationally and internationally. Her scientific honors include National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism MERIT and Senior Scientist Awards, Research Society on Alcoholism Distinguished Researcher Award and Henri Begleiter Award for Excellence in Research, International Neuropsychological Society Distinguished Career Award, and Doctorate Honoris Causa bestowed by the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes of France. She received her B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology at the University of Connecticut.
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