Spatial learning in men undergoing alcohol detoxification

Mauro Ceccanti, Derek Hamilton, Giovanna Coriale, Valentina Carito, Luigi Aloe, George Chaldakov, Marina Romeo, Marco Ceccanti, Angela Iannitelli, Marco Fiore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Alcohol dependence is a major public health problem worldwide. Brain and behavioral disruptions including changes in cognitive abilities are common features of alcohol addiction. Thus, the present study was aimed to investigate spatial learning and memory in 29 alcoholic men undergoing alcohol detoxification by using a virtual Morris maze task. As age-matched controls we recruited 29 men among occasional drinkers without history of alcohol dependence and/or alcohol related diseases and with a negative blood alcohol level at the time of testing. We found that the responses to the virtual Morris maze are impaired in men undergoing alcohol detoxification. Notably they showed increased latencies in the first movement during the trials, increased latencies in retrieving the hidden platform and increased latencies in reaching the visible platform. These findings were associated with reduced swimming time in the target quadrant of the pool where the platform had been during the 4 hidden platform trials of the learning phase compared to controls. Such increasing latency responses may suggest motor control, attentional and motivational deficits due to alcohol detoxification.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)324-330
Number of pages7
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2015


  • Ethanol detoxification
  • Virtual morris maze

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Philosophy


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