Skip to main content


Log in

Alcohol binge drinking decreases brain glucose metabolism and functional connectivity in adolescent rats

  • Original Article
  • Published:
Metabolic Brain Disease Aims and scope Submit manuscript


Alcohol misuse represents a serious health concern, especially during adolescence, with approximately 18% of high school students engaging in binge drinking. Despite widespread misuse of alcohol, its effects on how the brain functions is not fully understood. This study utilized a binge drinking model in adolescent rats to examine effects on brain function as measured by brain glucose metabolism (BGluM). Following an injection of [18 FDG] fluro-2-deoxy-D-glucose, rats had voluntary access to either water or various concentrations of ethanol to obtain the following targeted doses: water (no ethanol), low dose ethanol (0.29 ± 0.03 g/kg), moderate dose ethanol (0.98 ± 0.05), and high dose ethanol (2.19 ± 0.23 g/kg). Rats were subsequently scanned using positron emission tomography. All three doses of ethanol were found to decrease BGluM in the restrosplenial cortex, visual cortex, jaw region of the somatosensory cortex, and cerebellum. For both the LD and MD ethanol dose, decreased BGluM was seen in the superior colliculi. The MD ethanol dose also decreased BGluM in the subiculum, frontal association area, as well as the primary motor cortex. Lastly, the HD ethanol dose decreased BGluM in the hippocampus, thalamus, raphe nucleus, inferior colliculus, and the primary motor cortex. Similar decreases in the hippocampus were also seen in the LD group. Taken together, these results highlight the negative consequences of acute binge drinking on BGluM in many regions of the brain involved in sensory, motor, and cognitive processes. Future studies are needed to assess the long-term effects of alcohol binge drinking on brain function as well as its cessation.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4

Similar content being viewed by others

Availability of data and material:

Available from the corresponding author at request.

Code Availability

Not applicable.


  • Bohm C, Peng Y, Geiger JRP, Schmitz D (2018) Routes to, from and within the subiculum. Cell Tissue Res 373:557–563

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Borich MR, Brodie SM, Gray WA, Ionta S, Boyd LA (2015) Understanding the role of the primary somatosensory cortex: Opportunities for rehabilitation. Neuropsychologia 79:246–255

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Brandão ML, Melo LL, Cardoso SH (1993) Mechanisms of defense in the inferior colliculus. Behav Brain Res 58:49–55

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Chung T, Creswell KG, Bachrach R, Clark DB, Martin CS (2018) Adolescent Binge Drinking. Alcohol research: current reviews 39:5–15

    Google Scholar 

  • Crews FT, Braun CJ, Hoplight B, Switzer RC 3rd, Knapp DJ (2000) Binge ethanol consumption causes differential brain damage in young adolescent rats compared with adult rats. Alcohol Clin Exp Res 24:1712–1723

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Crews FT, Vetreno RP, Broadwater MA, Robinson DL (2016) Adolescent Alcohol Exposure Persistently Impacts Adult Neurobiology and Behavior. Pharmacol reviews 68:1074–1109

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Dean P, Mitchell IJ, Redgrave P (1988) Responses resembling defensive behaviour produced by microinjection of glutamate into superior colliculus of rats. Neuroscience 24:501–510

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Dilley JE, Nicholson ER, Fischer SM, Zimmer R, Froehlich JC (2018) Alcohol Drinking and Blood Alcohol Concentration Revisited. Alcoholism, clinical and experimental research. 42, 260–269

  • Duke AA, Giancola PR, Morris DH, Holt JC, Gunn RL (2011) Alcohol dose and aggression: another reason why drinking more is a bad idea. J Stud Alcohol Drugs 72:34–43

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Esser MB, Clayton H, Demissie Z, Kanny D, Brewer RD (2017) Current and Binge Drinking Among High School Students - United States, 1991–2015. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 66:474–478

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gispert JD, Figueiras FP, Vengeliene V, Herance JR, Rojas S, Spanagel R (2017) Changes in cerebral [(18)F]-FDG uptake induced by acute alcohol administration in a rat model of alcoholism. Behav Brain Res 327:29–33

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Gitelman DR, Parrish TB, Friston KJ, Mesulam MM (2002) Functional anatomy of visual search: regional segregations within the frontal eye fields and effective connectivity of the superior colliculus. Neuroimage 15:970–982

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Grant BF, Dawson DA (1997) Age at onset of alcohol use and its association with DSM-IV alcohol abuse and dependence: results from the National Longitudinal Alcohol Epidemiologic Survey. J Subst Abuse 9:103–110

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Hermens DF, Lagopoulos J (2018) Binge Drinking and the Young Brain: A Mini Review of the Neurobiological Underpinnings of Alcohol-Induced Blackout. 9

  • Hingson RW, Edwards EM, Heeren T, Rosenbloom D (2009) Age of drinking onset and injuries, motor vehicle crashes, and physical fights after drinking and when not drinking. Alcohol Clin Exp Res 33:783–790

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hsu LM, Liang X, Gu H, Brynildsen JK, Stark JA, Ash JA, Lin CP, Lu H, Rapp PR, Stein EA, Yang Y (2016) Constituents and functional implications of the rat default mode network. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 113:E4541–E4547

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Jiang N, Li G, Wei J, Wei B, Zhu FF, Hu Y (2018) Transcranial direct current stimulation of the primary motor cortex on postoperative pain and spontaneous oscillatory electroencephalographic activity following lumbar spine surgery: A pilot study. Restor Neurol Neurosci 36:605–620

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Kandel DB, Johnson JG, Bird HR, Canino G, Goodman SH, Lahey BB, Regier DA, Schwab-Stone M (1997) Psychiatric disorders associated with substance use among children and adolescents: findings from the Methods for the Epidemiology of Child and Adolescent Mental Disorders (MECA) Study. J Abnorm Child Psychol 25, 121–32.

  • Krieger H, Young CM, Anthenien AM, Neighbors C (2018) The Epidemiology of Binge Drinking Among College-Age Individuals in the United States. Alcohol Res 39:23–30

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Kuntsche E, Kuntsche S, Thrul J, Gmel G (2017) Binge drinking: Health impact, prevalence, correlates and interventions. Psychol Health 32:976–1017

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lannoy S, Billieux J, Dormal V, Maurage P (2019) Behavioral and Cerebral Impairments Associated with Binge Drinking in Youth: A Critical Review. Physiol Belgica 59:116–155

    Google Scholar 

  • Lees B, Meredith LR, Kirkland AE, Bryant BE, Squeglia LM (2020) Effect of alcohol use on the adolescent brain and behavior. Pharmacology, biochemistry, and behavior. 192, 172906–172906

  • Levin JM, Ross MH, Mendelson JH, Kaufman MJ, Lange N, Maas LC, Mello NK, Cohen BM, Renshaw PF (1998) Reduction in BOLD fMRI response to primary visual stimulation following alcohol ingestion. Psychiatry Res 82:135–146

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • McDowell MA, Fryar CD, Hirsch R, Ogden CL (2005) Anthropometric reference data for children and adults: U.S. population, 1999–2002. Adv Data. 1–5

  • Miller JW, Naimi TS, Brewer RD, Jones SE (2007) Binge drinking and associated health risk behaviors among high school students. Pediatrics 119:76–85

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mitchell AS, Czajkowski R, Zhang N, Jeffery K, Nelson AJD (2018) Retrosplenial cortex and its role in spatial cognition. Brain Neurosci Adv 2:2398212818757098

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Nakayama D, Baraki Z, Onoue K, Ikegaya Y, Matsuki N, Nomura H (2015) Frontal association cortex is engaged in stimulus integration during associative learning. Curr Biol 25:117–123

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Patrick ME, Schulenberg JE (2013) Prevalence and predictors of adolescent alcohol use and binge drinking in the United States. Alcohol Res 35:193–200

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Porrino LJ, Williams-Hemby L, Whitlow C, Bowen C, Samson HH (1998) Metabolic mapping of the effects of oral alcohol self-administration in rats. Alcohol Clin Exp Res 22:176–182

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Reznitsky M, Plenge P, Hay-Schmidt A (2016) Serotonergic projections from the raphe nuclei to the subthalamic nucleus; a retrograde- and anterograde neuronal tracing study. Neurosci Lett 612:172–177

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Saab CY, Willis WD (2003) The cerebellum: organization, functions and its role in nociception. Brain Res Brain Res Rev 42:85–95

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • SAMSHA (2015) Substance Use Disorders. Vol., ed.^eds. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, SAMSHA

  • Schweinhardt P, Fransson P, Olson L, Spenger C, Andersson JL (2003) A template for spatial normalisation of MR images of the rat brain. J Neurosci Methods 129:105–113

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Stoodley CJ, Valera EM, Schmahmann JD (2012) Functional topography of the cerebellum for motor and cognitive tasks: an fMRI study. Neuroimage 59:1560–1570

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Strother WN, Lumeng L, McBride WJ (2008) Acute ethanol effects on local cerebral glucose utilization in select central nervous system regions of adolescent alcohol-preferring (P) and alcohol-nonpreferring (NP) rats. Alcohol Clin Exp Res 32:1875–1883

  • Thanos PK, Wang GJ, Volkow ND (2008) Positron emission tomography as a tool for studying alcohol abuse. Alcohol Res Health 31:233–237

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Tootell RBH, Hadjikhani NK, Vanduffel W, Liu AK, Mendola JD, Sereno MI, Dale AM (1998) Functional analysis of primary visual cortex (V1) in humans. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 95:811–817

  • Volkow ND, Hitzemann R, Wolf AP, Logan J, Fowler JS, Christman D, Dewey SL, Schlyer D, Burr G, Vitkun S et al (1990) Acute effects of ethanol on regional brain glucose metabolism and transport. Psychiatry Res 35:39–48

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Volkow ND, Wang GJ, Franceschi D, Fowler JS, Thanos PP, Maynard L, Gatley SJ, Wong C, Veech RL, Kunos G, Li K, T (2006) Low doses of alcohol substantially decrease glucose metabolism in the human brain. Neuroimage 29:295–301

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Volkow ND, Kim SW, Wang GJ, Alexoff D, Logan J, Muench L, Shea C, Telang F, Fowler JS, Wong C, Benveniste H, Tomasi D (2013) Acute alcohol intoxication decreases glucose metabolism but increases acetate uptake in the human brain. Neuroimage 64:277–283

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • WHO, W.H.O (2018) Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health 2018. World Health Organization

  • Williams-Hemby L, Porrino LJ (1994) Low and moderate doses of ethanol produce distinct patterns of cerebral metabolic changes in rats. Alcohol Clin Exp Res 18:982–988

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Williams-Hemby L, Porrino LJ (1997) I. Functional consequences of intragastrically administered ethanol in rats as measured by the 2-[14 C]deoxyglucose method. Alcohol Clin Exp Res 21:1573–1580

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Wilsnack RW, Wilsnack SC, Gmel G, Kantor LW (2018) Gender Differences in Binge Drinking. Alcohol research: current reviews 39:57–76

    Google Scholar 

  • Woo C-W, Krishnan A, Wager TD (2014) Cluster-extent based thresholding in fMRI analyses: Pitfalls and recommendations. NeuroImage 91:412–419

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Xiong XR, Liang F, Zingg B, Ji X-y, Ibrahim LA, Tao HW, Zhang LI (2015) Auditory cortex controls sound-driven innate defense behaviour through corticofugal projections to inferior colliculus. Nat Commun 6:7224

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references


This work was supported by the Research Foundation for the State University of New York (#RIAQ0094).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



CR: Investigation, Data curation, Writing, Formal analysis, Visualization. JH: Writing, Visualization, Formal analysis. KR: Supervision, Writing. MS: Resources. RY: Resources. PT: Conceptualization, Resources, Writing, Supervision, Project administration, Funding acquisition.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Panayotis K. Thanos.

Ethics declarations

Conflicts of interest/Competing interests


Ethical approval

All experiments were conducted in conformity with the National Academy of Science Guide for Care and Use Laboratory Animals and approved by the University Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.

Consent to participate

Not applicable.

Consent for publication

All authors consent to publication.

Additional information

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Rapp, C., Hamilton, J., Richer, K. et al. Alcohol binge drinking decreases brain glucose metabolism and functional connectivity in adolescent rats. Metab Brain Dis 37, 1901–1908 (2022).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: