It has been established long ago through autopsy studies that chronic alcohol consumption may lead to severe organic brain damage in about 10% of the patients. The recent rapid development of novel tools for structural and functional brain imaging has enabled researchers to expand upon this early knowledge. Some of these newer studies have demonstrated that chronic alcohol consumption causes cortical volume loss, which is partly reversible with abstinence. Less known but of utmost clinical relevance are non-organic neurocognitive dysfunctions, which have only been described recently. Functional studies revealed that alcohol may lead to patterns of reduced activity in brain activation which correlate with the atrophy and take months to years to recover.
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