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The effects of binge drinking upon young adults’ prospective memory and related executive function

Ledingham, Jessica (2012) The effects of binge drinking upon young adults’ prospective memory and related executive function. Loughborough University.

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Abstract

Binge drinking is highly prevalent among young adults. A wide field of research has shown that the prefrontal cortex of the brain is vulnerable to the neurotoxic effects of alcohol, causing deficits prospective memory and executive functions. No previous research has explored the adverse effects of binge drinking on prospective memory related executive functioning. The first aim of the current study was to examine whether binge drinking in young adults has adverse effects on prospective memory. The second was to determine whether a binge drinker who suffers from an impaired prospective memory has associated deficits in their executive functioning. 44 participants were assessed using an objective measure of prospective memory (Virtual Reality Prospective Memory task) and an objective measure of executive function (Reverse Digit Span task). A between groups design was used; consisting of ‘binge drinkers’ and ‘non-binge drinkers’. Two predictions were made, the first was that binge drinkers would remember significantly fewer prospective memory items on the VRPM task, the second prediction was that binge drinkers who had an impaired prospective memory would recall significantly fewer digits on the RDS task. After controlling for age, years spent drinking, last alcohol use, mood and recreational drug use. Binge drinkers remembered significantly fewer prospective memory items on the VRPM task and recalled significantly fewer items on the RDS task than non-binge drinkers. Further analysis indicated that executive functioning underpins PM. The results of the study suggest that binge drinking in young adults causes impairments in prospective memory and related executive functions.

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