Binge drinking impairs
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Binge drinking impairs decision making ability in young adults
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Binge drinking impairs decision making ability in young adults

A recent research has found that young adults, who overindulge in alcohol, are likely to have poor decision-making abilities.

Washington, May 27 : A recent research has found that young adults, who overindulge in alcohol, are likely to have poor decision-making abilities.

The study, conducted by psychologists at the University of Missouri-Columbia, has established that binge drinking among college students weakens decision-making ability.

Led by Anna E. Goudriaan, a former postdoctoral student in the College of Arts and Science's Department of Psychological Sciences, the researchers examined 200 participants, between the ages of 18 and 22, during a four-year period by including the Iowa Gambling Test (IGT) into the analysis.

The IGT is a test of decision making strategy and measures people's propensity to make instant (disadvantageous) or long-term (advantageous) choices.

The first alcohol use examination was conducted when the students were freshmen, and continued until their junior years in college. The Researchers acquired information about the age they began drinking and their frequency of heaving drinking.

Based on drinking habits, the participants were grouped into four categories-low binge drinkers, stable/moderate binge drinkers, increasing binge drinkers and stable/high binge drinkers. They were also asked to completed online surveys each semester elaborating their drinking habits.

Three years into the study, the researchers administered the IGT, a computer card game, to measure risky decision making and impulsivity among the participants. By selecting cards, the goal of the game is to win as much money possible. Certain types of card selections are profitable and result in monetary gain, while others are disadvantageous and result in monetary loss.

Goudriaan said that participants in the stable/high alcohol use category, who had longer histories of binge drinking, were found to make riskier and less advantageous choices, which is a sign of problems associated with planning for the future,.

The study, to be published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, also revealed that only students who started binge drinking when they were younger showed impairment on the task.

"There is reason to think that heavy binge drinking during adolescence, when the brain is still rapidly developing, may have some negative legacy on psychological development. The interesting thing is that if we were to just look at binge drinkers and how impaired they are in the decision making process as juniors, we'd really be obscuring the important issue, which is how long they've been binge drinkers and/or how early they started," Sher said.

The study, "Decision Making and Binge Drinking: A Longitudinal Study," will be published in the June issue of.


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