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Alcohol Res Health. 2003;27(2):186-96.

What happened? Alcohol, memory blackouts, and the brain.

Author information

1
Department of Psychiatry, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina, USA.

Abstract

Alcohol primarily interferes with the 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 magnitude of the memory impairments. Large amounts of alcohol, particularly if consumed rapidly, can produce partial (i.e., fragmentary) or complete (i.e., en bloc) blackouts, which are periods of memory loss for events that transpired while a person was drinking. Blackouts are much more common among social drinkers--including college drinkers--than was previously assumed, and have been found to encompass events ranging from conversations to intercourse. 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.

PMID:
15303630
PMCID:
PMC6668891
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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