Visuoperceptive impairments are among the most frequently reported deficits in alcoholuse
disorders, but only very few studies have investigated their origin and interactions with other
categories of dysfunctions. Besides, these deficits have generally been interpreted in a linear bottom-
up perspective, which appears very restrictive with respect to the new models of vision developed
in healthy populations. Indeed, new theories highlight the predictive nature of the visual system
and demonstrate that it interacts with higher-level cognitive functions to generate top-down
predictions. These models notably posit that a fast but coarse visual analysis involving magnocellular
pathways helps to compute heuristic guesses regarding the identity and affective value of inputs,
which are used to facilitate conscious visual recognition. Building on these new proposals, the present
review stresses the need to reconsider visual deficits in alcohol-use disorders as they might
have crucial significance for core features of the pathology, such as attentional bias, loss of inhibitory
control and emotion decoding impairments. Centrally, we suggest that individuals with severe
alcohol-use disorders could present with magnocellular damage and we defend a dynamic explanation
of the deficits. Rather than being restricted to high-level processes, deficits could start at early
visual stages and then extend and potentially intensify during following steps due to reduced cerebral
connectivity and dysfunctional cognitive/emotional regions. A new research agenda is specifically
provided to test these hypotheses.
Keywords: Alcohol-use disorders, visuoperceptive deficits, visual prediction, magnocellular pathway, parvocellular pathway,
orbitofrontal cortex, bottom-up processes, top-down processes.
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