• E-mail :[email]
  • Phone : +33 2 56 56 25
  • Location : Caen, France
Last update 2012-05-15 18:37:31.157

Hélène Beaunieux PhD Neuropsychology

Course and current status

Education training

DEA of Psychology (Research Master), University of Caen, 1994

PhD, University of Caen, 2000

Capacitation to supervise researchers /Habilitation à Diriger des Recherches University of Caen, 2009

 Post held

From 2011 to now : Professor in Neuropsychology in Caen University

From 2000 to 2011: assistant professor in Neuropsychology at Caen

Scientific summary

Neuropsychology and neuroimaging of alcohol dependence

Chronic alcohol consumption results in neuropsychological deficits and brain abnormalities, ranging from mild-to-moderate cognitive disorders in alcohol-dependent patients without neurological complications (AL) to severe disturbances in patients with Korsakoff’s syndrome (KS). The main aim of our studies on alcoholism is to gain a better knowledge of the harmful effects of chronic alcohol consumption on the brain and cognition.

 In a previous research program launched in 2007 (KORSAKOL), we conducted an extensive neuropsychological assessment of AL patients, combined with morphological brain examinations. Our data highlighted a metamemory deficit in AL patients (PRJ 71) (Le Berre et al. 2011), with a tendency to overestimate memory abilities. AL also exhibited decision-making impairments, which correlated with brain regions involved in cognitive and emotional processes (Le Berre et al., submitted). We examined the contribution of those cognitive functions to the motivation process to stop drinking and found that a set of complementary cognitive abilities seemed to be needed to achieve awareness and resolve ambivalence towards alcohol addiction (Le Berre et al. 2012). Further analyses revealed that the little motivation to modify inappropriate drinking behavior observed in some alcohol-dependent patients at treatment entry could be related to macrostructural brain abnormalities in regions involved in cognitive, emotional and social abilities. These regional volume deficits may prevent some patients to resolve their ambivalence and to apply ‘processes of change’, which are yet essential to move towards a healthier lifestyle according to The Transtheoretical Model (Le Berre et al., submitted).

 

A new research program ALCOBRAIN is currently conducted in U1077 research unit (2011-2015). This ambitious research project includes neuropsychological and multimodal neuroimaging (structural, metabolic, functional) examinations of patients with AL and KS. ALCOBRAIN aims at (1) specifying the physiopathological processes resulting in alcohol-related brain abnormalities and neuropsychological disorders, (2) identifying the factors explaining the heterogeneity of alcohol-related brain abnormalities and neuropsychological disorders, (3) investigating the neural substrates of ToM deficits in AL patients, and (4) examining the brain mechanisms underlying neuropsychological recovery in AL with abstinence.

From a more clinical perspective, ALCOBRAIN will also enable us to develop and implement a new tool (BEARNI for brief Evaluation of Alcohol Related Neuropsychological Impairment) especially designed to conduct a rapid assessment of the alcoholism-related neuropsychological deficits present at alcohol treatment entry. This tool, usable by non-psychologists, will be brief, sensitive and specific to neuropsychological deficits exhibited by alcoholics. It will allow the physicians or nurses to determine, immediately following withdrawal, whether the patient can attend and gain from a standard alcohol treatment or whether some adjustments or a recovery period are required. 

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