Psychological Medicine

Research Article

The contributions of sex and drinking history to the CT brain scan changes in alcoholics

Robin Jacobsona1 c1

a1 Institute of Psychiatry, London


Consecutive series of male and female alcoholics, Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) members and controls were examined by interview and with a CT brain scan. Male controls were shown to have larger CT brain parameters than healthy females of the same age. Female alcoholics revealed equivalent CT scan abnormalities, apart from less sulcal widening, after a markedly shorter drinking history and at a lower estimated peak alcohol consumption than male alcoholics. The CT scan findings persisted after accounting for body weight and after matching for age and length of drinking history. The CT scan parameters of female AA members approached control values more completely and after briefer abstinence than did those of male AA members. Methodological problems and sex differences in selection and other processes are discussed. The findings are consistent with sex differences in the vulnerability of the brain to alcohol toxicity, and in its recovery with abstinence.


c1 Address for correspondence: Dr R. Jacobson, St George's Hospital Medical School, Department of Psychiatry, Cranmer Terrace, Tooting, London SW17 0RE.