Chronic alcoholism and the frontal lobe: Which executive functions are impaired?

M. T. Ratti, P. Bo, A. Giardini, D. Soragna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective - Over the last decade, various hypotheses have been advanced concerning the cognitive functions affected by chronic alcoholism. The aim of this study was to identify the pattern of executive function impairment in chronic alcoholism, shedding light on possible differences between specific functions related to the frontal lobe. Methods - Twenty-two male alcoholics and 22 controls, matched for age, educational level and IQ, were enrolled in the study. MMPI and a battery of neuropsychological tests [i.e. digit symbol, trail making test, Stroop test, digit cancellation test, Wisconsin card sorting test (WCST), simple and choice reaction times] for assessing frontal lobe functioning were administered. Results - The alcoholics were found to be impaired in a wide range of executive domains, with the exception of the Stroop test, which nevertheless showed a trend towards statistically significant differences between patients and controls. Conclusion - With the exception of aggression - our subjects did not have high aggression scale scores - the 'frontal lobe hypothesis', according to which alcoholic patients are impaired on function tests related to the frontal lobe, was therefore confirmed in our sample.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)276-281
Number of pages6
JournalActa Neurologica Scandinavica
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • Alcoholism
  • Cognitive functions
  • Frontal lobe

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)


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