Rationale: Visuo-perceptive deficits in severe alcohol use disorder (SAUD) remain little understood, notably regarding the respective involvement of the two main human visual streams, i.e., magnocellular (MC) and parvocellular (PC) pathways, in these deficits. Besides, in healthy populations, low-level visual perception can adapt depending on the nature of visual cues, among which emotional features, but this MC and PC pathway adaptation to emotional content is unexplored in SAUD. Objectives: To assess MC and PC functioning as well as their emotional modulations in SAUD. Methods: We used sensitivity indices (d′) and repeated-measures analyses of variance to compare orientation judgments of Gabor patches sampled at various MC- and PC-related spatial frequencies in 35 individuals with SAUD and 38 matched healthy controls. We then explored how emotional content modulated performances by introducing neutral or fearful face cues immediately before the Gabor patches and added the type of cue in the analyses. Results: SAUD patients showed a general reduction in sensitivity across all spatial frequencies, indicating impoverished processing of both coarse and fine-scale visual content. However, we observed selective impairments depending on facial cues: individuals with SAUD processed intermediate spatial frequencies less efficiently than healthy controls following neutral faces, whereas group differences emerged for the highest spatial frequencies following fearful faces. Altogether, SAUD was associated with mixed MC and PC deficits that may vary according to emotional content, in line with a flexible but suboptimal use of low-level visual content. Such subtle alterations could have implications for everyday life’s complex visual judgments.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Coralie Creupelandt (Research Fellow) and Pierre Maurage (Senior Research Associate) are funded by the Belgian Fund for Scientific Research (F.R.S.-FNRS, Belgium). This research has been supported by a grant from the “Fondation pour la Recherche en Alcoologie” (FRA; Grant number: 2018/20). These funds did not exert any editorial direction or censorship on any part of this article.
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.