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Clinical EEG & Neuroscience Journal

Journal of Clinical EEG & Neuroscience, January, 2009

EEG and Cerebral Blood Flow Velocity Abnormalities in Chronic Cocaine Users

Marc L. Copersino, Ronald I. Herning, Warren Better, Jean-Lud Cadet and David A. Gorelick


EEG and cerebral blood flow abnormalities have been documented in chronic cocaine abusers. To identify possible relationships between EEG and blood flow changes and their relationship to the intensity of cocaine use, we recorded the resting eyes-closed EEG and anterior (ACA) and middle (MCA) cerebral artery blood flow velocity during systole (VS) and diastole (VD) by transcranial Doppler (TCD) sonography of 99 (76 male, 23 female; mean [SD] age 34.3 [5.2] years, 8.6 [5.5] years of cocaine use, 17.8 [7.7] days of cocaine use in month prior to screening) cocaine users within 5 days of admission to a closed research unit. Forty-two non-drug-using, age-matched control subjects (22 male, 20 female) were tested as outpatients. A 3-minute period of resting EEG was recorded from 16 standard scalp electrodes. Artifact-free EEG was converted to six frequency bands (delta, theta, alpha1, alpha2, beta1 and beta2) using a Fast Fourier Transform. Pulsatility index (PI ) was calculated as a measure of small vessel resistance.

Cocaine users had decreased VD and increased PI in the MCA, with no difference in VS, and reduced EEG theta, beta1 and beta2 absolute power in posterior brain regions. Recent cocaine use was positively associated with MCA PI (r = 0.27, p < 0.001) and negatively associated with low frequency EEG power (delta power: r = -0.25, p < 0.002; theta power: r = -0.29, p< 0.001). EEG beta1 (r = -0.211, p < 0.05) and beta2 (r = -0.176, p < 0.05) power measures were correlated with PI. These observations suggest that EEG and TCD changes reflect related physiological processes during early cocaine abstinence.

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