Alcoholism can result in a number of severe consequences to the central nervous system, including Korsakoff's psychosis, delusions, delirium, Wernicke's encephalopathy, and cerebellar degeneration. Many of these disorders have a substantially higher prevalence than had been previously believed. Neuropathologic and neuroimaging studies have been instrumental in identifying the changes undergone by the alcoholic brain and the factors that may contribute to alcohol-induced brain damage. Biologic differences appear to make women especially susceptible to central nervous system insult from alcohol abuse. The damage caused by alcohol may be associated, in part, with thiamine deficiency, neuronal excitotoxicity, and magnesium wasting.