August 13, 2009
Binge drinking may affect working memory
Students desiring to excel at school or work may wish to forego binge drinking, research by Spanish scientists suggests.
The study, published online ahead of print in the November issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, finds binge drinkers expend more attentional effort to completing a given task, and have problems differentiating between relevant and irrelevant information.
The study looked at 95 first-year male and female university students. Of these, 42 were binge drinkers -- defined as males who drink five or more standard alcohol drinks or females who drink four or more within a two-hour period.
The researchers find binge drinkers showed anomalies during the execution of a task involving visual working memory not shown by the 53 non-binge drinkers.
One of the most relevant and worrying aspects of the high prevalence of intense consumption of alcohol in young people is the effect this drinking pattern probably has on the structure and function of the still developing brain, and that these consequences may persist in the long-term, study corresponding author Alberto Crego, a doctoral student at the University of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain, says in a statement.
Some neuromaturation processes continue until approximately 25 years of age; this means that late developing regions are probably even more vulnerable targets.