Reviews of collegiate drinking practices consistently have noted the high prevalence of persistent alcohol use and abuse on college campuses. Nearly half of all college students engage in gbingeh drinking. (four or more for women and five or more for men), and about one in five report frequent binge drinking (H. Wechsler et al. , 1994). Such heavy consumption patterns are associated with poor academic performance, reflecting lower course grades, being placed on academic probation, and spending fewer hours studying, as well as health problems (H.
Wechsler et al. , 1994). Some research suggests that excessive exposure to alcohol is related to cognitive test performance deficits, even for such relatively high-functioning subpopulations as college undergraduates. Parsons and Nixon (1993) noted that impaired performance has been observed across varied cognitive skills involving perceptual-motor, visuospatial, problem-solving, and learning abilities. The current study represented as an attempt to address two classes of hypotheses regarding the effects of cognitive abilities in a college-aged sample. First, alcohol abuse during the college years may result in specific performance deficits for those abilities associated with a college education (e.
g. , critical thinking reflecting judgment, and formal operations), because alcohol involvement reduces optimal engagement in the in the tasks and activities that promote the development of higher cognitive functions. Second, AUDs during this time may result in deficits on more neuropsychological measures, particularly visuospatial ability, because of the direct, neurotoxic effects of alcohol. In addition the researchers hypothesized that AUDs during the college years may result in smaller gains in cognitive development as a function of baseline performance. Method: The participant for this experiment were drawn from an ongoing, prospective study of offspring of alcoholic that began in the 1987-1988 academic year, when the participants were 3, 156 freshmen at a large midwestern university. They were screened for the presence of family history of alcoholism with an extensive battery of interview of questionnaire measures.
Participants were required to meet eligibility criteria on several variables including age at baseline data collection (younger than 20 years), completion of all assessment during the first four waves of data collection, and complete academic and assessment data (used to create the participant matching variable). Procedure: Participants were contacted by telephone to take part in a project assessing the development of health behaviours during college. Those who consented were scheduled for a series of assessment appointments. The main goal of the study was to determine whether AUD during the college years would have negative effect on neuropsychological test performance and the development of cognitive skills associated with a college education. The use of a prospective design, the inclusion of a carefully screened sample of AUD and control participants matched on general intellectual functioning at baseline, and the use of both neuropsychological tests and measures designed to assess higher intellectual functioning were among the strength of this study. The most striking result was the general lack of differences between the AUD and control groups on the neuropsychological and cognitive outcome measures.
Only participants who preformed poorly were found to show perspective effects of alcohol abuse at follow-up. These effects remained after control for the effects of recent alcohol and other drug use, either alone or in a combination with AUD status. Discussion: As with any other research study, the degree to which these data can be generalized to other population depends on the on the particular hypothesis and target population of interest. All of the participants were college students so normatively high on most neuro cognitive measures; as a result they may represent somewhat resilient group. The mixed patterns of findings regarding the cognitive effects of AUDs in youthful populations, we need to undertake a more systematic approach to examining the problem. In detail, population-based, longitudinal studies that begin assessment early in schooling’s and before heavy alcohol exposure can help the seemingly diverse of findings that characterize this under-researched area.
Not only syndromal diagnoses and measures of consumption be examined as predictors, but we should also considering looking at specific indicators of neuro adaptation that might be particularly relevant for understanding brain damage. For example, alcohol withdrawal has been associated with neuronal cell death, and recent findings indicate that withdrawal appears to produce deficits in spatial memory in rodent models and that these deficits are related to cell loss in the hippocampus. It is likely to moderate the relation between alcohol related variables and their cognitive consequences.