Page last updated:Dec 2020
Changes in the brain directly following alcohol consumption

A study sought to use proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1HMRS) and diffusion weighted imaging (DWI) to identify ethanol in the brain directly after consumption, and examine changes in brain metabolite levels and brain microstructure relative to the duration of time following exposure to alcohol.
The study involved 44 male volunteers (18–55 years). All brain changes were assessed in the frontal lobes, occipital lobes, basal ganglia and cerebellum, however the detailed analyses focused on the frontal lobes. All participants were examined four times, i.e. before and 0.5-hour, 1 hour and 2 hours after consumption of 150 mL pure vodka (60 g of ethanol).
The highest ethanol levels were identified between 0.5 and 1 hour following alcohol intake. There were significant increases in the concentrations of lipids and lactates approximately one hour after alcohol consumption, and the concentration levels were found to normalise during the follow-ing two hours. Some statistically insignificant trends of changes were found for tCr, tCho, mI, GABA, Glc, Glx and tNAA. For the DWI and ADC (Apparent Diffusion Coefficient of water) values, the findings showed statistically insignificant decrease and increase, followed by a tendency towards normalisation. Similar associations in changes of metabolite concentrations and DWI and ADC values were found in the other locations investigated in the study.
This study demonstrated that a single dose of alcohol as used in this experiment produces increases in lipids and lactates in brain tissues that appear reversible.
Source: Andrzej Urbanik, Justyna Kozub, Paulina Karcz, Monika Ostrogórska, Changes in the brain directly following alcohol consumption—a study of healthy male individuals, with the use of proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1HMRS) and diffusion (DWI), Alcohol and Alcoholism, agaa119.
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