Older adults with long-term alcohol dependence lose neurocognitive abilities

Heavy drinking can lead to neurophysiological and cognitive changes ranging from disrupted sleep to more serious neurotoxic effects. Aging can also contribute to cognitive decline. Several studies on the interaction of current heavy drinking and aging have had varied results. This study sought to elucidate the relations among age, heavy drinking, and neurocognitive function.

Researchers had 66 participants (35 women, 31 men), recruited from the Brown University Center for AIDS Research, undergo a comprehensive neurocognitive battery of testing. Current heavy drinkers (n=21) were classified using National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism criteria and structured clinical interviews and, further, were compared to non-drinkers and moderate drinkers (n=45). About 53 percent of the total population had a lifetime history of alcohol dependence (AD). Neurocognitive data were grouped according to global cognitive function, attention/executive function, learning, memory, , verbal function, and speed of processing.

Results showed that current heavy drinking in older adults was associated with poorer global cognitive function, learning, memory, and motor function. Furthermore, a lifetime history of AD was associated with poorer function in the same neurocognitive domains, as well as the attention/executive domain, notwithstanding age. In summary, although current is associated with significant impairment in a number of neurocognitive domains, it appears that a history of AD is associated with lasting negative consequences for .


Explore further

Heavy drinking in middle age may speed memory loss by up to six years in men

More information: Adam J. Woods et al. Current Heavy Alcohol Consumption is Associated with Greater Cognitive Impairment in Older Adults, Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research (2016). DOI: 10.1111/acer.13211
Provided by Research Society on Alcoholism
Citation: Older adults with long-term alcohol dependence lose neurocognitive abilities (2016, September 22) retrieved 14 October 2019 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2016-09-older-adults-long-term-alcohol-neurocognitive.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
5 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more