The frontal lobe and continuity hypotheses of alcohol related brain damage assert that higher cognitive functions mediated by the frontal lobe will be compromised in binge drinkers. Specifically, it was hypothesised that binge drinkers would display impairments in the high cognitive load condition of a laboratory-based prospective memory (PM) task (star-counting task). The star-counting task involved three components: the primary arithmetic task (which was varied according to cognitive load), the event-based PM task where participants had to make a specific response when a number was generated, and the time-based PM task where participants had to make specific responses at particular time intervals. Eighty male and female first-year university students, classified as binge drinkers or low drinkers, participated in this study. Despite showing equivalent performance to the low drinkers on the arithmetic task, binge drinkers were impaired on the most demanding temporal memory task: the high cognitive load version of the time-based component of the star-counting task. This pattern of results supports the notion that binge drinkers are impaired on demanding cognitive tasks.
Poster presented at the 2002 Annual Australian Psychological Society Conference, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, 27 September-10 October 2002