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FROM: Options@Cal U RE: Protect your brain...
10/24/2013 9:39:33 AM
To: Students, Faculty, Staff

It's National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week

Time to learn a little something about brain protection

Alcohol’s Impact on Brain Function

Memory Formation

Memory formation is the ability to form memories of new events.  Alcohol use inhibits the brain’s memory formation ability, resulting in periods of time in which an individual may not remember what happened.  These are commonly referred to as “blackouts.”

Abstract Thinking & Problem Solving

The brain interprets different events, observations, and happenings in a variety of ways. Additionally, one of the major tasks of the brain is to distinguish the difference between concrete, obvious, surface reasoning, and abstract thinking such as word puzzles and interpreting stories.  Similar to thinking in an abstract way, problem solving often involves using different strategies and reasoning skills. We also need mental flexibility, the ability to switch strategies and approaches to problems to solve them efficiently.  Abstract thinking and problem solving skills are impaired while under the influence of alcohol, and may remain impaired for up to 48 hours after a high-risk drinking episode.

Attention and Concentration

Attentiveness and concentration are mental functions used in the classroom on a daily basis and are critical parts of the learning process. The degree to which these functions are affected depends on how much alcohol is consumed. Chronic long-term abusers of alcohol experience the major effects. However, “social drinkers” also develop deficits in their mental functioning. The more alcohol a person has when they go out, the more likely they are to experience negative effects.

Perceptions of Emotion

Recent studies show high-risk drinkers acquire the inability to perceive emotion in people’s speech. The specific brain function that allows us to perceive attitude and emotion in conversation is impaired in heavy drinkers. It is important to realize this deficiency is one perception and does not reflect the drinker’s own emotional state.

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