Senior Citizens Drink Up! Moderate Alcohol Leads to
Also linked with a larger volume in the hippocampus,
a brain region critical for episodic memory
23, 2014 – If you are a senior age 60 or older and do not have dementia,
new research supports previous studies that have found moderate alcohol
consumption improves your ability to recall memories of events –
Moderate alcohol consumption was also linked with a
larger volume in the hippocampus, a brain region critical for episodic
memory. The relationship between light alcohol consumption and episodic
memory goes away if hippocampal volume is factored in, providing new
evidence that hippocampal functioning is the critical factor in these
The researchers note that the amount of alcohol
consumption had no impact on executive function or overall mental
This study used data from more than 660 patients in
the Framingham Heart Study Offspring Cohort. These patients completed
surveys on their alcohol consumption and demographics, a battery of
neuropsychological assessments, the presence or absence of the genetic
Alzheimer’s disease risk factor APOE e4 and MRIs of their brains.
Findings from animal studies suggest that moderate
alcohol consumption may contribute to preserved hippocampal volume by
promoting generation of new nerve cells in the hippocampus. In addition,
exposing the brain to moderate amounts of alcohol may increase the
release of brain chemicals involved with cognitive, or information
“There were no significant differences in cognitive
functioning and regional brain volumes during late life according to
reported midlife alcohol consumption status,” said lead author Brian
Downer, postdoctoral fellow at UTMB Sealy Center on Aging.
“This may be due to the fact that adults who are
able to continue consuming alcohol into old age are healthier, and
therefore have higher cognition and larger regional brain volumes, than
people who had to decrease their alcohol consumption due to unfavorable
Although the potential benefits of light to
moderate alcohol consumption to cognitive learning and memory later in
life have been consistently reported, extended periods of abusing
alcohol, often defined as having five or more alcoholic beverages during
a single drinking occasion is known to be harmful to the brain.
Other members of this research team include Yang
Jiang and David Fardo from the University of Kentucky and Faika Zanjani
from the University of Maryland.
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