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Binge Drinking Affects Even Sober Brain, Study Finds

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Self-reported binge drinkers performed worse on cognitive tests compared to non-bingers, even when they were sober, the Los Angeles Times reported Aug. 11.

Researchers at the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain said the findings hinted that binge drinking could affect the brain in ways similar to that observed among alcoholics.

“We found that healthy young university students — meaning those with no alcohol use disorder, alcohol dependence or associated psychiatric disorders — who engaged in binge drinking showed anomalies during the execution of a task involving visual working memory, despite correct execution of the task, in comparison with young non binge drinkers. They required greater attentional processing during the task in order to carry it out correctly,” said researcher Alberto Crego. “Healthy adolescents and young people who partake in intermittent consumption of large amounts of alcohol — otherwise known as binge drinking — even only once or twice  a week, and who do not display chronic alcohol consumption or alcohol dependence may nonetheless suffer alterations at the electrophysiological level in attentional and working memory processing.”

The study, which compared 42 binge drinkers to 53 other students, was published online in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

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