Gender dimorphism of brain reward system volumes in alcoholism


Sawyer KS, Oscar-Berman M, Barthelemy OJ, Papadimitriou GM, Harris GJ, Makris N. Gender dimorphism of brain reward system volumes in alcoholism. Psychiatry Res. 2017;263 :15-25.

Date Published:

2017 May 30


The brain's reward network has been reported to be smaller in alcoholic men compared to nonalcoholic men, but little is known about the volumes of reward regions in alcoholic women. Morphometric analyses were performed on magnetic resonance brain scans of 60 long-term chronic alcoholics (ALC; 30 men) and 60 nonalcoholic controls (NC; 29 men). We derived volumes of total brain, and cortical and subcortical reward-related structures including the dorsolateral prefrontal (DLPFC), orbitofrontal, and cingulate cortices, and the temporal pole, insula, amygdala, hippocampus, nucleus accumbens septi (NAc), and ventral diencephalon (VDC). We examined the relationships of the volumetric findings to drinking history. Analyses revealed a significant gender interaction for the association between alcoholism and total reward network volumes, with ALC men having smaller reward volumes than NC men and ALC women having larger reward volumes than NC women. Analyses of a priori subregions revealed a similar pattern of reward volume differences with significant gender interactions for DLPFC and VDC. Overall, the volume of the cerebral ventricles in ALC participants was negatively associated with duration of abstinence, suggesting decline in atrophy with greater length of sobriety.
Last updated on 04/04/2018