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A preliminary study on the effects of acute ethanol ingestion on default mode network and temporal fractal properties of the brain



To study the effect of acute alcohol intoxication on the functional connectivity of the default mode network (DMN) and temporal fractal properties of the healthy adult brain.

Materials and methods

Eleven healthy male volunteers were asked to drink 0.59 g/kg of ethanol. Resting state blood oxygen level dependent (rsBOLD) MRI scans were obtained before consumption, 60 min post-consumption and 90 min post-consumption. Before each rsBOLD scan, pointed-resolved spectroscopy (PRESS) 1H-MRS (magnetic resonance spectroscopy) scans were acquired to measure ethanol levels in the right basal ganglia.


Significant changes in DMN connectivity were found following alcohol consumption (p < 0.01). Both increased and decreased regional connectivity were found after 60 min, whereas mostly decreased connectivity was found after 90 min. The fractal behaviour of the rsBOLD signal, which is believed to help reveal complexity of small-scale neuronal circuitry, became more ordered after both 60 and 90 min of alcohol consumption (p < 0.01).


The DMN has been linked to personal identity and social behavior. As such, our preliminary findings may provide insight into the neuro-functional underpinnings of the cognitive and behavioral changes observed during acute alcohol intoxication. The reduced fractal dimension implies a change in function of small-scale neural networks towards less complex signaling.

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The work was funded by a postgraduate scholarship from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada (AMW).

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Correspondence to Michael D. Noseworthy.

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Weber, A.M., Soreni, N. & Noseworthy, M.D. A preliminary study on the effects of acute ethanol ingestion on default mode network and temporal fractal properties of the brain. Magn Reson Mater Phy 27, 291–301 (2014).

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  • MRI
  • MRS
  • BOLD
  • Ethanol
  • Resting state
  • Fractal dimension