Published: 19th June 2018
Teenagers beware: Binge-drinking session may affect your short-term memory
Teenage binge drinking is associated with reduced PFC activity, cognitive deficits, and later alcohol abuse. Yet, the mechanisms underlying these observations are unclear, the researchers said
If you are in your adolescence and drinking excessively then it may affect your short-term memory, a new study suggests.
The animal-based study, published in the journal Jneurosci, found that excessive drinking during adolescence may interfere with the activity of brain cells needed for sustaining short-term memory.
According to the researchers, including Michael Salling from the Columbia University in New York, the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and the behaviour-management abilities it supports — both of which continue to mature throughout the teenage years — are particularly vulnerable to the effects of heavy alcohol use during adolescence.
For the study, using a voluntary intermittent access to alcohol procedure in male mice, the researchers demonstrated that binge level alcohol consumption during adolescence leads to altered drinking patterns and working memory deficits in young adulthood.
The research team found that adolescent mice consuming binge-level quantities of alcohol struggled with a working memory task and showed signs of "front-loading" — excessive alcohol use within the first five minutes of availability — in early adulthood.
The researchers also found that adolescent alcohol exposure altered a number of properties of PFC pyramidal neurons, which connect the PFC to other brain areas and are therefore important for the regulation of behaviour.
These findings linking binge drinking with disrupted PFC-dependent behaviour and brain function may ultimately lead to improved treatment of alcohol's negative effects on the brain, the researcher noted.