Binge drinking impacts memory long after the event

Related tags Wine

Contributing to already considerable dossier on the impact
excessive alcohol consumption can have on health, a new study
claims to be the first to show that continuous drinking for a short
period could lead to permanent damage to memory.

Both human and animal studies have shown that chronic alcohol consumption can impact our memories and learning.

But researchers at the University of Kentucky in the US say their rodent study demonstrates that solid drinking for as little as eight weeks can produce deficits in learning and memory that last up to 12 weeks after drinking has stopped.

" We found deficits in every type of task we tested the mice in, from complex to simple tasks,"​ said Susan A. Farr, associate professor of medicine at St. Louis University School of Medicine and co-author of the study.

The researchers fed eight-week-old male mice, of two different strains, either an alcohol or sucrose diet for eight weeks, followed by a three-week withdrawal period.

The alcohol quantities fed to the mice are the equivalent to a human that drank six to eight beers or one bottle of wine a day every day for six years.

Learning and long-term memory tests covered many forms of learning and included T-maze footshock avoidance and shuttlebox active avoidance.

For humans, the six year bottle of wine a day habit could lead to learning and memory deficits up to nine years after they stopped drinking alcohol, said Farr, but cautioned about "going straight from mouse to human"​ in their conclusions.

She added that the mice study found that learning and memory deficits are not related to any nutritional or sensory deficits produced by the alcohol.

"This indicates that the alcohol produced neurochemical changes in the brain important for learning and memory,"​ said the researcher.

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