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Study Finds Hangovers May Impair Executive Functioning

Symptoms of a hangover include fatigue, excessive thirst, headache, nausea, and mood disturbances. A recent study suggests that a hangover may also impair certain executive functions such as decision making, planning, and mental flexibility.

Thirty-five people with an average age of 25 participated in the study. They completed cognitive tasks that measured different components of executive function on two occasions, once with a hangover and once without a hangover. The tests administered were a number-switching task, the letter version of the n-back task, and the AX Continuous Performance Task.

The researchers found that participants had more errors in all three tasks when they took them with a hangover compared to when they didn’t have a hangover. This indicates reduced ability to retain information in their short-term memory, to switch attention between tasks, and to focus on a goal while they had a hangover compared to when they did not have a hangover.

The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Bath and Utrecht University. It was published online ahead of print on April 17, 2020 in the Journal of Clinical Medicine.

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