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Binge Drinkers Are Fast, Able to Stop – but They Fail to Adjust

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 December 2015

Ragnhild Bø*
Clinical Neuroscience Research Group, Department of Psychology, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
Martin Aker
Clinical Neuroscience Research Group, Department of Psychology, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
Joël Billieux
Laboratory for Experimental Psychopathology, Psychological Science Research Institute, Catholic University of Louvain, Louvain-La-Neuve, Belgium
Nils Inge Landrø
Clinical Neuroscience Research Group, Department of Psychology, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
Correspondence and reprint requests to: Ragnhild Bø, Department of Psychology, P.O. Box 1094 Blindern, 0317, Oslo, Norway. E-mail:


Binge drinking leads to brain damage. However, at present few studies have taken into account the continuity in the binge drinking phenomenon, and treated binge drinking as a clearly separable category from other types of drinking patterns. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether severity of binge drinking can predict specific neurocognitive changes in healthy young adults. A total of 121 students aged 18 to 25 were assessed by means of the three last questions of the Alcohol Use Questionnaire combined into binge score. The binge score was entered as a predictor of cognitive performance of the CANTAB Stop Signal Task including reaction time, inhibition processing time, and response adjustment. Anxiety and depression symptoms were also measured. Binge score significantly predicted less adjustment following failures, and faster reaction times. Binge score did not predict inhibition performance. Symptoms of depression and anxiety were not significantly related to binge score. Binge drinking in healthy young adults predicts impairment in response adjustment and fast reaction time, but is unrelated to inhibition. The study supports the view that binge drinking is a continuous phenomenon, rather than discrete category, and the findings are possibly shedding light on why binge drinkers continue their drinking pattern despite negative consequences. (JINS, 2016, 22, 38–46)

Research Articles
Copyright © The International Neuropsychological Society 2015 

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