Longitudinal Course of Brain Intracortical Myelination in Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment
Improving efficacy of treatments for addictive disorders requires a deeper understanding of the neurobiological and behavioral deficits underlying these disorders. Brain imaging studies using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), including several conducted by Dr. Amlung’s research team (e.g., Amlung et al., 2012; Morris et al., 2019; Amlung et al., In Prep), have revealed significant differences in brain structure and function between people with alcohol use disorder and healthy controls. This includes a recent NIH-funded (R21 AA026392) study lead by Dr. Amlung that aimed to establish intracortical myelin (a myelinated portion of the cerebral cortex) as a novel brain marker of alcohol use disorder (Amlung et al., In Prep). Although cross-sectional studies are a necessary first step, these designs do not permit testing hypotheses about causal relations between brain and disorder, and also cannot demonstrate potential for recovery or repair of brain tissue following abstinence. Doing so requires longitudinal designs that are more complex and challenging to conduct. As such, the goal of the proposed project is to expand Dr. Amlung’s addictions neuroimaging research program to investigate longitudinal markers of treatment response.