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J Stud Alcohol. 2005 Mar;66(2):254-65.

Persistent cognitive deficits in community-treated alcoholic men and women volunteering for research: limited contribution from psychiatric comorbidity.

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Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94025, USA.



The contribution of psychiatric comorbidity to cognitive status was assessed in a sample of treatment-seeking alcoholics who met criteria to participate in studies of effects of chronic alcohol misuse on brain structure and cognition.


Alcoholic men (n = 43) and women (n = 21) who responded to notices about a research study were screened, clinically assessed and administered Wechsler Memory and Intelligence tests after 3 months of sobriety, on average. Cognitive performance was compared with that of an age-matched sample of healthy controls (n = 51).


As a group, the alcoholics achieved significantly lower scores than controls on summary indices of the Wechsler Memory and Adult Intelligence Scales and showed greater decline from estimated premorbid intelligence levels than controls. Almost 60% of the alcoholics had at least one additional psychiatric (mood or anxiety) or past substance-dependence comorbidity. There were no marked sex differences in patterns of comorbidity. Comorbid alcoholics were younger, had consumed less alcohol over their lifetime and performed between noncomorbid alcoholics and controls on all tests.


Mood and anxiety comorbidity did not necessarily compound poor cognitive test performance associated with chronic alcohol misuse. While unexpected, this finding suggests that, in this sample, poorer cognitive performance was more a function of alcoholism per se than nonalcoholic comorbidity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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