Katherine Moran. Health Psychology Research Review. May

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Katherine Moran
Health Psychology Research Review
May 7, 2017

HOW ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION AFFECTS COGNITIVE FUNCTIONING IN CASES OF BOTH LONG- AND SHORT-TERM USAGE

The social culture of college in America often has an underlying foundation of binge drinking. Out of the 60 percent of American college students who drink regularly, two-thirds of these students also report engaging in frequent binge-drinking (NIAAA, 2015). While students may be aware of some of the short-term consequences of engaging in these binge-drinking behaviors, which can range from being hungover, to showing poor academic performance, to assault and/or violence, public health concerns stemming from excessive use of alcohol often have far reaching, long term effects.
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The paper was supported by resources from the US Department of Health and Human Services, the NIAAA, the Medical Research Service of the US Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Alcoholic Beverage Medical Research Foundation.

METHODOLOGY: The paper was a qualitative review utilizing mostly correlational methods and containing both cross-sectional and longitudinal studies.

MAIN POINTS/FINDINGS: The authors first looked at the premature aging hypothesis and its association with alcoholism. They reported that most studies found that as an individual ages the harmful neurological effects of alcohol become more pronounced and the brain is more susceptible to permanent damage or greater reduction in size of the cerebral cortex, corpus callosum, hippocampus, and cerebellum. There is also an association between neuropsychological and psychomotor deficits in older alcoholics. In terms of gender the review found evidence episodic memory tasks were performed better on by women across all varying degrees of drinking habits (non, light, moderate, and heavy) than men. Men performed better on visuospatial tasks, but only in the non and light drinker groups. fMRI data looking at gender differences in alcohol-related brain impairment showed inconsistent results and the authors suggested that further research is necessary in this area of study. Results of twin, family, and adoption studies showed that there are genetic risk factors that influence susceptibility to alcoholism, while

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