Binge drinking may negatively affect young people's ability to learn and retain knowledge, reports a new study.
The research adds to other studies demonstrating the negative effects of binge drinking, especially for adolescents whose brains and bodies are still developing. Previous research on rats and monkeys shows excess alcohol consumption hurts the hippocampus, or the portion of the brain associated with memory and learning.
After surveying a group of college-aged students at a Chilean university, the research team selected 122 to participate in the study. Nearly half reported binge drinking while the other half did not. Researchers made sure the students had similar grades, didn't use recreational drugs regularly and shared consistent intelligence scores.
During the experiment, students were tasked with learning a list of words. After going over the list five times, scientists asked the students to repeat the words they could remember, even if they weren't in the same order as the list. Participants were also given stories to memorize and shown photos of family members to describe later.