Excess consumption of alcohol can cause neurophysiological and cognitive changes ranging from disrupted sleep to more serious neurotoxic effects, a study has found.
The negative consequences of heavy alcohol consumption on neurocognitive function gets worse with advanced age, the study said.
Results showed that heavy drinking in older adults could lead to poorer global cognitive function, learning, memory and motor function.
Although the acute consumption of excessive quantities of alcohol causes neurophysiological and cognitive alterations, as people reach advanced age, they are more prone to cognitive decline, more due to the heavy dependence of alcohol, the researchers observed.
“These data suggest that while heavy current alcohol consumption is associated with significant impairment in a number of neurocognitive domains, history of alcohol dependence, even in the absence of heavy current alcohol use, is associated with lasting negative consequences for neurocognitive function,” said Adam J. Woods from the University of Florida in the US.
For the study, the team recruited 66 participants (35 women, 31 men) from the Brown University Center for AIDS Research, to undergo a comprehensive neurocognitive battery of testing.
Heavy drinkers were classified using National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism criteria and structured clinical interviews and, further, were compared to non-drinkers and moderate drinkers.
Nearly 53 per cent showed had a lifetime history of alcohol dependence (AD).
Neurocognitive data were grouped according to global cognitive function, attention/executive function, learning, memory, motor function, verbal function, and speed of processing.
The findings were published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.