They're bad for me, it's true, but who cares when the things they say sound so good? (Sorry, Mom)
The Brain Maintains Language Skills In Spite Of Alcohol Damage By Drawing From Other Regions
ScienceDaily (Mar. 25, 2009)
"Prior neuroimaging studies have shown alcoholism-related damage to the frontal lobes and cerebellum. Yet even though these regions are involved in language processing, alcoholics' language skills appear to be relatively spared from alcohol's damaging effects. A new study suggests that alcoholics develop "compensatory mechanisms" to maintain their language skills despite alcohol's damages… compensation which may, in turn, have a restrictive effect on other processes.
"We believe there are certain neural substrates associated with the preserved mechanisms of language processing in alcoholics," said Jean-Luc Martinot, director of research and psychiatrist at INSERM/CEA/Université Paris sud/Université Paris Descartes, and corresponding author for the study. "We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate if alcoholics develop a different pattern of neural activity that supports their language processing."
Martinot added that the greater fMRI response in these other regions might also indicate that the brains of the alcoholic group needed more oxygen, and energy, in these supplementary regions in order to achieve the same performance as the control group.
"In other words," said Sullivan, "an ostensibly 'normal' performance by a recovering alcoholic may be accomplished at the cost of reducing processing capacity to engage in or to be ready to engage in another task, for example, driving and being prepared to shift from one focus to another when unexpected events occur.""