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A new research study published in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism states that even moderate drinking can permanently slow down one’s brain.

For the study, researchers at Spain’s University of Santiago de Compostela measured the results of 26 binge drinker students—those who drank at least six units of alcohol at one time, once a week—with 31 students who did not drink alcohol. Then after drinking the alcohol, participants were told to react to various flashing symbols. It was found that the binge drinkers had to use 20% more brain power to achieve the same results as the non-drinkers.

Researchers say this proves that drinkers “experience anomalies in neural activity” which can impact their working memory and their ability to pay attention. Emily Robinson, director of the campaign group Alcohol Concern says, “Binge drinking carries lots of risks in terms of the immediate safety of students, but also in terms of their future health and the likelihood of developing an alcohol problem later in life.”

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