Neurobiological and Cognitive Profile of Young Binge Drinkers: a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
This review provides the first systematic and quantitative synthesis of the literature examining the relationship between binge alcohol use, cognition, brain structure and function in youth aged 10 to 24 years.
PubMed, EMBASE, Medline, PsychINFO and ProQuest were searched for neuroimaging, neurophysiological, and neuropsychological studies. A total of 58 studies (21 neuroimaging, 16 neurophysiological, 21 neuropsychological) met the eligibility criteria and were included in the review.
Overall, abnormal or delayed development of key frontal executive-control regions may predispose youth to binge alcohol use. These abnormalities appear to be further exacerbated by the uptake of binge alcohol use, in addition to alcohol-related neural aberrations in reward-seeking and incentive salience regions, indexed by cognitive deficits and maladaptive alcohol associations. A meta-analysis of neuropsychological correlates identified that binge alcohol use in youth was associated with a small overall neuro-cognitive deficit (g = −0.26) and specific deficits in decision-making (g = −1.70), and inhibition (g = −0.39). Using the Grades of Recommendation, Assessment, Development, and Evaluation (GRADE) Evidence Profile, the certainty in outcomes ranged from very low to low.
Future prospective longitudinal studies should address concomitant factors, exposure thresholds, and age-related vulnerabilities of binge alcohol use, as well as the degree of recovery following discontinuation of use.