Increased ventral striatal volume in college-aged binge drinkers

Howell, Nicholas A, Worbe, Yulia, Lange, Iris, Tait, Roger, Irvine, Michael, Banca, Paula, Harrison, Neil A, Bullmore, Edward T, Hutchison, William D and Voon, Valerie (2013) Increased ventral striatal volume in college-aged binge drinkers. PLoS ONE, 8 (9). e74164. ISSN 1932-6203

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Binge drinking is a serious public health issue associated with cognitive, physiological, and anatomical differences from healthy individuals. No studies, however, have reported subcortical grey matter differences in this population. To address this, we compared the grey matter volumes of college-age binge drinkers and healthy controls, focusing on the ventral striatum, hippocampus and amygdala.


T1-weighted images of 19 binge drinkers and 19 healthy volunteers were analyzed using voxel-based morphometry. Structural data were also covaried with Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) scores. Cluster-extent threshold and small volume corrections were both used to analyze imaging data.


Binge drinkers had significantly larger ventral striatal grey matter volumes compared to controls. There were no between group differences in hippocampal or amygdalar volume. Ventral striatal, amygdalar, and hippocampal volumes were also negatively related to AUDIT scores across groups.


Our findings stand in contrast to the lower ventral striatal volume previously observed in more severe forms of alcohol use disorders, suggesting that college-age binge drinkers may represent a distinct population from those groups. These findings may instead represent early sequelae, compensatory effects of repeated binge and withdrawal, or an endophenotypic risk factor.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: PMCID: PMC3785474
Keywords: MeSH Terms Adolescent Adult Basal Ganglia/pathology* Binge Drinking/pathology* Case-Control Studies Humans Young Adult
Schools and Departments: Brighton and Sussex Medical School > Neuroscience
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General) > R895 Medical physics. Medical radiology. Nuclear medicine
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neurosciences. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Depositing User: Hazelle Woodhurst
Date Deposited: 05 Aug 2014 14:33
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2019 18:51

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