Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Moderate drinking before trauma leads to more flashbacks, study finds

Date:
March 3, 2010
Source:
University College London
Summary:
People who have drunk a moderate amount of alcohol before a traumatic event report more flashbacks than those who have had no alcohol, according to new research.

People who have drunk a moderate amount of alcohol before a traumatic event report more flashbacks than those who have had no alcohol, according to new research at UCL (University College London).

Related Articles


The results may give new insight into why some individuals develop post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after a traumatic event and others do not.

Published online today in the journal Biological Psychiatry, researchers also found that those who drank a large amount of alcohol before a traumatic event did not report an increase in the number of flashbacks.

"Many people who experience a personally traumatic event such as rape or a road traffic accident have consumed alcohol beforehand. For the first time, this research gives us an idea of how being under the influence of alcohol might contribute to our wellbeing later on," said James Bisby, from UCL's Department of Clinical, Educational & Health Psychology, who led the research.

Scientists believe that the findings can be attributed to how alcohol affects two types of memory: one that is egocentric, providing a visual 'snapshot' of an event, and another that stores a mental representation of the context of the event, which is independent of the person's viewpoint.

The authors of the study suggest that contextual memory is reduced in those who experience high levels of stress and this reduction may be exaggerated in those who have had a couple of glasses of wine (around three units). This allows egocentric memories to be involuntarily re-experienced -- resulting in more flashbacks. In those that have drunk seven or more units of alcohol both types of memory are disrupted leading to fewer flashbacks and an overall reduction in memory for the event.

During the study, nearly 50 participants consumed either alcohol or a placebo drink and then performed a virtual reality task designed to examine how an experienced event is stored within memory. They were then shown a video of serious road traffic accidents and recorded the number of times they spontaneously re-experienced any of the footage, i.e. had a flashback, over the following 7 days.

"People who had been given a small amount of alcohol showed reductions in memory that relies on contextual aspects of an event, whereas memory based on an egocentric representation was intact. However, those individuals given a higher dose of alcohol showed a global reduction in memory with decreases in both types of memory," explained James Bisby.

Although the findings suggest that drinking a large amount of alcohol might result in less involuntary re-experiencing of the event due to an overall reduction in memory, the researchers are cautious in drawing this conclusion.

"When people have no memory of the traumatic event, as can happen if they consumed a large amount of alcohol beforehand, they are more likely to imagine a 'worse case scenario.' This alone can prove to be extremely distressing and debilitating for the individual involved. We are currently extending our findings to try and provide a clearer picture of alcohol's ability to affect memory during trauma," explained Professor Valerie Curran, also from the UCL Department of Clinical, Educational & Health Psychology, and a co-author of the research.

The research was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University College London. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University College London. "Moderate drinking before trauma leads to more flashbacks, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 March 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100302195922.htm>.
University College London. (2010, March 3). Moderate drinking before trauma leads to more flashbacks, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100302195922.htm
University College London. "Moderate drinking before trauma leads to more flashbacks, study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100302195922.htm (accessed November 29, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) — Tryptophan, a chemical found naturally in turkey meat, gets blamed for sleepiness after Thanksgiving meals. But science points to other culprits. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) — A new study links greater authority with increased depressive symptoms among women in the workplace. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) — Millions of American suffer from seasonal depression every year. It can lead to adverse health effects, but there are ways to ease symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins