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Older Adults With Long Term Alcohol Dependence Lose Neurocognitive Function

Summary: A new study reports continued heavy drinking in older people is associated with poor global cognitive and motor functions.

Source: Research Society on Alcoholism.

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, motor function, 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 heavy drinking 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 neurocognitive function.

Image shows a depressed looking old man.

Several studies on the interaction of current heavy drinking and aging have had varied results. NeuroscienceNews.com image is for illustrative purposes only.

About this addiction research article

Source: Sherry Wasilow – Research Society on Alcoholism
Image Source: NeuroscienceNews.com image is in the public domain.
Original Research: Abstract for “Current Heavy Alcohol Consumption is Associated with Greater Cognitive Impairment in Older Adults” by Adam J. Woods, Eric C. Porges, Vaughn E. Bryant, Talia Seider, Assawin Gongvatana, Christopher W. Kahler, Suzanne de la Monte, Peter M. Monti and Ronald A. Cohen in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. Published online September 22 2016 doi:10.1111/acer.13211

Cite This NeuroscienceNews.com Article
Research Society on Alcoholism. “Older Adults With Long Term Alcohol Dependence Lose Neurocognitive Function.” NeuroscienceNews. NeuroscienceNews, 23 September 2016.
<http://neurosciencenews.com/aging-alcohol-neurocognition-5111/>.
Research Society on Alcoholism. (2016, September 23). Older Adults With Long Term Alcohol Dependence Lose Neurocognitive Function. NeuroscienceNews. Retrieved September 23, 2016 from http://neurosciencenews.com/aging-alcohol-neurocognition-5111/
Research Society on Alcoholism. “Older Adults With Long Term Alcohol Dependence Lose Neurocognitive Function.” http://neurosciencenews.com/aging-alcohol-neurocognition-5111/ (accessed September 23, 2016).

Abstract

Current Heavy Alcohol Consumption is Associated with Greater Cognitive Impairment in Older Adults

Background

The acute consumption of excessive quantities of alcohol causes well-recognized neurophysiological and cognitive alterations. As people reach advanced age, they are more prone to cognitive decline. To date, the interaction of current heavy alcohol (ethanol [EtOH]) consumption and aging remains unclear. This study tested the hypothesis that negative consequences of current heavy alcohol consumption on neurocognitive function are worse with advanced age. Further, we evaluated the relations between lifetime history of alcohol dependence and neurocognitive function.

Methods

Sixty-six participants underwent a comprehensive neurocognitive battery. Current heavy EtOH drinkers were classified using National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism criteria (EtOH heavy, n = 21) based on the Timeline follow-back and a structured clinical interview and compared to nondrinkers, and moderate drinkers (EtOH low, n = 45). Of the total population, 53.3% had a lifetime history of alcohol dependence. Neurocognitive data were grouped and analyzed relative to global and domain scores assessing: global cognitive function, attention/executive function, learning, memory, motor function, verbal function, and speed of processing.

Results

Heavy current EtOH consumption in older adults was associated with poorer global cognitive function, learning, memory, and motor function (ps < 0.05). Furthermore, lifetime history of alcohol dependence was associated with poorer function in the same neurocognitive domains, in addition to the attention/executive domain, irrespective of age (ps < 0.05).

Conclusions

These data suggest that while heavy current alcohol consumption is associated with significant impairment in a number of neurocognitive domains, history of alcohol dependence, even in the absence of heavy current alcohol use, is associated with lasting negative consequences for neurocognitive function.

“Current Heavy Alcohol Consumption is Associated with Greater Cognitive Impairment in Older Adults” by Adam J. Woods, Eric C. Porges, Vaughn E. Bryant, Talia Seider, Assawin Gongvatana, Christopher W. Kahler, Suzanne de la Monte, Peter M. Monti and Ronald A. Cohen in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. Published online September 22 2016 doi:10.1111/acer.13211

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