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Alcohol Alcohol. 2011 Sep-Oct;46(5):547-52. doi: 10.1093/alcalc/agr066. Epub 2011 Jun 10.

Alcohol attenuates activation in the bilateral anterior insula during an emotional processing task: a pilot study.

Author information

  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Cincinnati, 4150 Edwards Building One, PO Box 210376, Cincinnati, OH 45221, USA. claudiapadula@gmail.com

Abstract

AIMS:

Alcohol acutely reduces agitation and is widely used in social situations, but the neural substrates of emotion processing during its intoxication are not well understood. We examine whether alcohol's social stress dampening effect may be via reduced activity in the cortical systems that subserve awareness of bodily sensations, and are associated with affective distress.

METHODS:

Blood oxygen level-dependent activation was measured through 24 functional magnetic resonance imaging sessions in 12 healthy volunteers during an emotional face-processing task following ingestion of a moderate dose of alcohol and a placebo beverage.

RESULTS:

Results revealed that bilateral anterior insula response to emotional faces was significantly attenuated following consumption of alcohol, when compared with placebo (clusters >1472 μl; corrected P < 0.05).

CONCLUSION:

Attenuated response in the anterior insula after alcohol intake may explain some of the decreased interoceptive awareness described during intoxication.

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