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Heavy drinking hampers decision-making the next day

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London, April 22 (IANS) Drinking too much? Stop it right now. Researchers warn that heavy drinkers or people with a hangover have less ability to plan or set goals and make decisions the following day.

When hungover, individuals have a reduced ability to retain information in their short-term memory – for example retaining a telephone number whilst taking a message at the same time.

They also highlight impairments when it comes to individuals’ ability to switch attention between tasks and focus on a goal.

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Published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine, the study highlights the true impact of heavy drinking and provides new evidence as to why hangovers cost the wider economy so much.

A recent report, which involved the same team, found that hangovers cost the UK economy £1.4 billion a year in wasted productivity, including people working while hungover.

“We know that hangovers can have a big economic cost, but we did not know how hangover affects our ability to switch attention from one task to another, update information in our mind, and maintain focus on setting goals,” said study lead author Craig Gunn from the University of Bath in the UK.

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“Our study asked participants to complete tasks measuring these processes when they had a hangover and again when they had not consumed alcohol. The results suggest that all of these processes are impaired by a hangover, which could have consequences for other aspects of our lives,” Gun explained.

The latest study involved thirty-five 18 to 30-year-olds who had reported experiencing a hangover at least once in the past month.

Individuals completed measures which assessed their ability to switch attention between tasks, to update and process information from multiple sources and to guide and plan behaviour, whilst experiencing a hangover.

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Few studies have explored how hangover affects key cognitive processes, the so-called ‘core executive functions’, which we use in daily life to planning, set goals and make decisions.

“Our data show that this impairment is likely the result of reduced capability in several core executive functions, which are important for tasks such as workplace performance and driving,” said study senior author Dr Sally Adams.

–IANS

bu/na

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