I chose an article that studied the effects of drinking patterns on prospective memory performance in college students. Some terms I came across that were important are prospective memory (PM) which is a form of episodic memory and involves the ability to remember to carry out an intention at some future point in time, MIST stands for memory for Intentions screening test, and that BARCS stands for brain and alcohol research in college students. The culture can be changed based on policies and on increase awareness on the effects of alcohol consumption in families, and in the target population, college students.

Participants were 123 third and fourth year undergraduate college students between the ages of 19 and 23 years who all attended a small liberal arts college, and studied BARCS (brain and alcohol research in college students). They gathered them all together by email, text, social media, and calls. They excluded people with the history of central neurological disorders, head injury accompanied by loss of consciousness of over 1 hour, or concussion within 30 days of participation. The participants received an email with a link to a series of secure monthly online questionnaires that were about alcohol effects, brief young adult alcohol consequences, and self-rating effects of alcohol. The primary variables of interest acquired from these measures were frequency of alcohol consumption, frequency of binge drinking, the number of times the person experienced an alcohol-related blackout, and the maximum number of drinks consumed in one sitting. At the start of the survey, participants were asked to record the current survey question on a colored sheet of paper in their testing packet after 15 min of working on the survey.

 To establish salience for this task, participants were told that the experimenter was tracking the timing of the survey to ensure that it was not excessive in length. The ongoing task was determined to be a sufficiently distracting as it sought detailed information about life stress, mood, as well as alcohol and drug use. Thus, the time-based PM task was to record the current survey question, the time delay was 15 min, and the ongoing task was a self-assessment online survey. By having the experimenter explain to participants that to be compensated for their participation in the study, they needed to turn in the “cash voucher.” The ongoing task, which measured perceptual motor speed, incidental learning, executive function, and impulsivity, was determined to be a sufficiently demanding ongoing task. Participants were also asked to complete a brief retrospective recognition questionnaire. Through two multiple-choice questions, participants were asked to identify the correct PM tasks that they had been instructed to complete. These were included to be sure that participants had understood and encoded the task instructions successfully.

This study aimed to compare PM performance among college aged individuals with different drinking patterns. Overall, participants performed better on the time-based than the event-based PM tasks. Different indicators of drinking behavior had differential effects on PM performance. Heavy drinking was specifically related to the greatest impairment in time-based PM performance. An unexpected finding was that participants overall performed better on the time- than the event-based PM tasks. We also found that self-reported alcohol-induced amnesia (blackouts) caused lower performance. The conclusion is that heavy alcohol use in college students may be related to impairments in PM which is prospective memory.