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Binge drinking doesn't affect next-day student test-taking
Date:3/23/2010

In a first-of-its kind controlled experiment, researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) and Brown University have found that surprisingly, binge drinking the night before a test does not impact college students' test performance although it can affect their moods, attention and reaction times.

The study, which appears in the April 2010 edition of the journal Addiction, was conducted by Jonathan Howland, professor of community health sciences at BUSPH , and Damaris Rohsenow, research professor at Brown's Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies.

The study found that intoxication in the evening did not affect students' next day scores on academic tests requiring long-term memory, or on tests of recently learned material. Binge drinking did, however, slow participants' attention/reaction times and worsen mood states impacts that could affect safety-related behaviors, such as driving.

Howland said the research team was surprised by the test-taking results because some prior studies have found that occupational performance was impaired the day after intoxication. But, he explained, "We looked at one particular academic outcome. Test-taking is only one measure of academic success."

The researchers also noted that binge drinking could affect other types of academic performance, such as essay-writing and problem-solving requiring higher-order cognitive skills.

"We do not conclude that excessive drinking is not a risk factor for academic problems," the researchers wrote. "It is possible that a higher alcohol dose would have affected next-day academic test scores. Moreover, test-taking is only one factor in academic success. Study habits, motivation and class attendance also contribute to academic performance; each of these could be affected by intoxication."

While some previous studies, using surveys, have found that students who drink heavily have more academic difficulties
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Contact: Jonathan Howland
jhowl@bu.edu
617-638-5158
Boston University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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