Food and Behaviour Research

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Effects of Alcohol Hangover on Cognitive Performance: Findings from a Field/Internet Mixed Methodology Study

Scholey A, Benson S, Kaufman J, Terpstra C, Ayre E, Verster JC, Allen C, Devilly GJ (2019) J Clin Med.  2019 Mar;8(4).  pii: E440. doi: 10.3390/jcm8040440. 

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Abstract:

Results from studies into the cognitive effects of alcohol hangover have been mixed. They also present methodological challenges, often relying on self-reports of alcohol consumption leading to hangover.

The current 
study measured Breath Alcohol Concentration (BAC, which was obtained via breathalyzer) and self-reported drinking behavior during a night out. These were then related to hangover severity and cognitive function, measured over the internet in the same subjects, the following morning.

Volunteers were breathalyzed and interviewed as they left the central entertainment district of an Australian state capital. They were provided with a unique identifier and, the following morning, logged on to a website. They completed a number of measures including an online version of the 
Alcohol Hangover Severity Scale (AHSS), questions regarding number and type of drinks consumed the previous night, and the eTMT-B-a validated, online analogue of the Trail Making Test B (TMT-B) of executive function and working memory.

Hangover severity was significantly correlated with one measure only, namely the previous night's Breath Alcohol Concentration (r = 0.228, p = 0.019). Completion time on the eTMT-B was significantly correlated with hangover severity (r = 0.245, p = 0.012), previous night's BAC (r = 0.197, p = 0.041), and time spent dinking (r = 0.376, p < 0.001). These findings confirm that alcohol hangover negatively affects cognitive functioning and that poorer working memory and executive performance correlate with hangover severity.

The results also support the utility and certain advantages of using online measures in 
hangover research.

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