Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Alcohol-induced blackouts

After a debauched weekend, during which I drank enough to achieve actual gaps in my memory, I did a little reading on the impact of alcohol on the brain. Luckily for me, it doesn't look like it's clear that neurons are killed or permanently damaged, but nerve transmission is certainly impaired. Memory loss is a possible side effect, along with other neurological and physical responses most of us know about from experience.

The term for alcohol-related memory loss is "blackout," not the same as passing out. Complete memory loss is rarer than partial loss. From the article Alcohol Induced Blackouts: The second type of blackouts, fragmentary blackouts, as the name suggests, involve partial blockade of memory formation for events that occurred while a person was intoxicated. Goodwin and colleagues(1969a) reported that subjects experiencing fragmentary blackouts often become aware that they are missing pieces of events only after being reminded that the events occurred. Interestingly, these reminders trigger at least some recall of the initially missing information. Research suggests that fragmentary blackouts are far more common than those of the en bloc variety (White et al., in press; Hartzler and Fromme, 2003; Goodwin et al., 1969b).

This page summarizes some of the impacts on the brain in more detail. Alcohol-induced blackouts: Alcohol and the Hippocampus.

1 comment :

tanyaa said...

Alcohol poisoning is a somewhat general term that refers to the condition in which someone has ingested a toxic amount of alcohol. Alcohol poisoning is a serious condition requiring immediate attention, but it is relatively rare compared to other injuries and deaths associated with alcohol.
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