Alcohol, Memory Blackouts,and the Brain
Alcohol primarily interferes with both men and women’s ability to form new long-term memories, leaving intact previously established long-term memories and the ability to keep new information active in memory for brief periods.
As the amount of alcohol consumed increases, so does the size of the memory damage.
Large amounts of alcohol, particularly if consumed rapidly, can produce partial (i.e., fragmentary) or complete (i.e., as a group) blackouts, which are periods of memory loss for events that transpired while a person was drinking.
While most heavy drinkers have blackouts they are much more common among social drinkers—including college drinkers—than was previously assumed.
Blackouts have been found to encompass events ranging from conversations, fights, murders, rape and great sex.
Mechanisms underlying alcohol-induced memory impairments include disruption of activity in the hippocampus, a brain region that plays a central role in the formation of new autobiographical memories.
Research; Aaron M. White, Ph.D. Alcohol Research & Health, Vol. 27, No. 2, 2003, Alcohol and Memory.
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