Ethanol affects cognition in a number of ways. Indirect effects include intoxication, withdrawal, brain trauma, central nervous system infection, hypoglycemia, hepatic failure, and Marchiafava-Bignami disease. Nutritional deficiency can cause pellagra and Wernicke-Korsakoff disorder. Additionally, ethanol is a direct neurotoxin and in sufficient dosage can cause lasting dementia. However, ethanol also has neuroprotectant properties and in low-to-moderate dosage reduces the risk of dementia, including Alzheimer type. In fetuses ethanol is teratogenic, and whether there exists a safe dose during pregnancy is uncertain and controversial.
Keywords: Wernicke-Korsakoff; alcoholic dementia; glutamate.