Research shows a link between alcoholism and memory

Sep 10, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- A University of Sussex leading expert on the psychological effects of drinking told an audience at the BA Festival of Science this week that the effect alcohol has on memory could contribute to alcoholism.

Professor Dora Duka, an experimental psychologist, said that her studies show alcohol facilitates memories for emotional events experienced before intoxication (mostly positive) and impairs memories for emotional events experienced after intoxication (often negative). This can lead drinkers to believe in the positive effects of alcohol rather than see its drawbacks.

"The effects of alcohol on mood are known contributors to its use and abuse," she said. "It is less known how its effects on memory and inhibitory control add to alcohol being an addictive drug. Alcohol effects on memory may be a factor in the development of alcoholism."

Professor Duka gave her presentation at the festival, held this year at the University of Liverpool, alongside other academic experts in the field of alcohol addiction.

Professor Duka's recent research at Sussex has also shown that alcohol damages our emotional judgment. Social heavy drinkers who binge drink show inability to withhold an inappropriate response when sober. She said: "They also are worse in planning than their counterparts that do not binge drink. These findings are seen more in females. Although male binge drinkers are usually found to drink more alcohol overall than female binge drinkers, their binge scores are lower. Presumably this reflects a lower tolerance of females, so that female drinkers, although they consume less, may become drunk more often when drinking."

She added: "Alcohol's acute effects on inhibitory control can lead to binge drinking. More importantly, binge drinking induces impairments that are not seen in non-binge drinking even if the amounts of alcohol drunk per week are the same."

Professor Duka now intends to examine the effect of binge drinking on learning about rewards and punishment. Such research will give information about possible changes in emotional sensitivity in binge drinkers. This project is part of a larger body of research funded by the Medical Research Council.

Provided by University of Sussex

Explore further: New MRSA superbug emerges in Brazil

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Teens prefer liquor to beer, hardly touch wine

Mar 08, 2011

Nearly half of American teen drinkers would rather have a shot of liquor than a bottle of beer, a new study finds. The golden brew and malt beverages only come a distant second and third, and wine barely registers ...

Parents important for keeping adolescents off alcohol

Mar 07, 2011

Parents who are both present and engaged are the very best way of preventing teenagers from consuming large quantities of alcohol. Adolescents who smoke, stay out with their friends and have access to alcohol - from their ...

Study identifies genes associated with binge drinking

Feb 28, 2011

University of Maryland School of Medicine researchers have identified two genes associated with binge drinking that may open doors to new, more effective treatments for excessive alcohol drinking. The scientists found that ...

Rural underage binge drinkers put their health at risk

Feb 07, 2011

Binge drinking is often considered to be a problem of towns and cities but new research published in BioMed Central's open access journal BMC Public Health shows that binge drinking in rural areas is more of a problem than p ...

Recommended for you

Malaysia quarantines 64 villagers over MERS virus

44 minutes ago

Malaysia has quarantined 64 people in a southern village after one of its residents become the country's first person to die of a respiratory illness that is spreading from the Middle East, local media reported Thursday.

Spate of Mideast virus infections raises concerns

1 hour ago

A recent spate of infections from a frequently deadly Middle East virus is raising new worries about efforts to contain the illness, with infectious disease experts urging greater vigilance in combatting ...

New MRSA superbug emerges in Brazil

1 hour ago

An international research team led by Cesar A. Arias, M.D., Ph.D., at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) has identified a new superbug that caused a bloodstream infection ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Turning off depression in the brain

Scientists have traced vulnerability to depression-like behaviors in mice to out-of-balance electrical activity inside neurons of the brain's reward circuit and experimentally reversed it – but there's ...

Spate of Mideast virus infections raises concerns

A recent spate of infections from a frequently deadly Middle East virus is raising new worries about efforts to contain the illness, with infectious disease experts urging greater vigilance in combatting ...

Clean air: Fewer sources for self-cleaning

Up to now, HONO, also known as nitrous acid, was considered one of the most important sources of hydroxyl radicals (OH), which are regarded as the detergent of the atmosphere, allowing the air to clean itself. ...

Thinnest feasible nano-membrane produced

A new nano-membrane made out of the 'super material' graphene is extremely light and breathable. Not only can this open the door to a new generation of functional waterproof clothing, but also to ultra-rapid filtration. The ...

There's something ancient in the icebox

Glaciers are commonly thought to work like a belt sander. As they move over the land they scrape off everything—vegetation, soil, and even the top layer of bedrock. So scientists were greatly surprised ...