Now, researchers have demonstrated that after recovery, the brains of people suffering from alcoholism still process things differently, which may lead to difficulties recognizing emotions in others.
The researchers looked at brain scans of 15 former alcoholics and 15 people without a history of alcoholism, and found that the former alcoholics did not register strong responses when shown images of people displaying positive or negative emotions the way the others did.
“The upshot, really, is that people who have had serious alcoholism problems sometime in the past, they could be misreading facial cues,” said Ksenija Marinkovic, assistant professor in residence in the radiology department at the University of California, San Diego. “Not everybody is able to read facial cues in the same way.”
The focus of the Boston-based study — funded in part by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs — was on finding the regions of the brain that might be altered in people who had an alcohol addiction.