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Study Examines Effects of Alcohol on Memory

Posted in Alcoholism

A dependence on alcohol is known to cause a number of problems for the long-term drinker, including mental and physical damage. Cognitive processes, such as memory, are affected by alcohol dependence and a new study examines the impact on metamemory or the subjective knowledge an individual may have of their own cognitive processing abilities.

A recent Science Daily release examined this study, which found that alcohol dependence has a negative impact on episodic memory in addition to metamemory. Episodic memory is the memory system that keeps track of encoding, storage and retrieval of personally experienced events.

The metamemory is the part of the system that allows the individual to adapt his or her behavior in everyday life and to use memory skills as efficiently as possible. This capability leads us to create a shopping list if we tend to forget things at the store or continue to study for a test when we feel we are not sufficiently ready.

To assess the metamemorial activity in AD individuals, the research team in this study examined 28 AD and 28 non-AD controls. It was determined that alcoholic patients did not predict accurately their future memory performance. The individuals tended to be inaccurate in their predictions of future memory performance.

These individuals also had a tendency to overestimate their memory capacities. They would often believe they were capable of recognizing the correct word. In truth, they were failing to do this task, over and over. The most interesting element of this process was that the alcohol dependent individual was completely unaware of this deficit.