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  • Saturday, 12 p.m., the light burns, your head throbs, and you have no recollection of how you got back home.

  • Don't worry, you're not alone.

  • More than half of college students experience blackouts, according to several studies.

  • And let's be clear, blacking out doesn't mean passing out.

  • You were probably awake and aware the entire night.

  • So then, where did all those memories go?

  • Let's rewind to Friday night.

  • Normally, whenever you have an experience, like a conversation, a part of your brain called the prefrontal cortex stores that information in short-term memory.

  • Then, another part of your brain called the hippocampus weaves those experiences together, so they can be stored away as long-term memories.

  • So the next day, you remember the party as a whole, instead of the smell of sweat, house music, Jen was there.

  • But here's the key part.

  • Storing these episodes in long-term memory requires special neurotransmitters.

  • But your liquor shots prevent the neurotransmitters from working properly.

  • So instead of remembering the party, all you have is an incomplete, or even empty file.

  • And the amount of alcohol in your system at the time influences how much you remember.

  • Let's say you're a 73-kilogram adult man, and you've done eight shots in one hour.

  • Your blood alcohol content is probably around 0.2% by this point, more than twice the legal limit for driving a car.

  • And your brain may still be able to store some memories, so you end up with islands of memories separated by missing sections.

  • That's called a fragmentary blackout, aka a grayout or brownout.

  • But if you keep pounding those shots, it gets worse.

  • Within the next half hour, you pound back another four shots.

  • Now your blood alcohol content hits around 0.3%, and your hippocampus goes dark, and full amnesia sets in.

  • This is called an en bloc blackout, and once you wake up, that entire night could be blank.

  • Push your BAC much higher than that, and you might die.

  • And yet your friends might not even realize you're in the middle of a blackout, since the alcohol didn't delete your long-term memories already safe in storage before the night began.

  • So you can still carry on conversations and behave more or less like a typical person, to an extent.

  • Blackouts aside, alcohol can still interfere with other regions of your brain, including those responsible for reasoning and decision-making.

  • So during blackouts, people have crashed cars, gotten into fights, and committed or been the victims of sexual assault.

  • They might just not remember it.

  • That being said, not everyone gets blackouts.

  • Your sex, body weight and family history all play a role.

  • So that could explain why your friends recall the entire night, despite downing just as much tequila.

  • But it won't save them from a wicked hangover the next morning.

Saturday, 12 p.m., the light burns, your head throbs, and you have no recollection of how you got back home.

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B1 US blackout alcohol brain hippocampus term term memory

What Happens To Your Brain When You Get Blackout Drunk | The Human Body

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    Fibby posted on 2019/10/15
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