Regional cerebral blood flow in alcohol induced violence: A case study.

A case is presented of a 20-year-old man who became violent on many occasions after ingesting alcohol. On one occasion he committed an armed robbery. Two brain SPECT studies were performed: one when he was alcohol free, and one after he ingested alcohol in the same pattern as the night of the crime. The “alcohol free” study revealed marked hyperactivity in the cingulate gyrus, right and left lateral frontal lobes, right and left lateral parietal lobes and the right lateral temporal lobe. The “alcohol intoxication” study showed an overall dampening effect on the hyperactive areas of the brain, with only the anterior cingulate gyrus showing excessive activity. In addition, the right and left prefrontal cortex became hypoperfused, decreasing impulse control and judgment, as did the left and right temporal lobes, increasing the likelihood for aggression. This study suggests that this man may have been “self-medicating” an overactive brain, but in the process induced a state that increased the likelihood for aggressive behavior. This case study suggests the need for further research in the area of alcohol-induced violence and the potential usefulness of SPECT imaging, although no conclusions can be drawn from one case.

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