Effects of alcohol consumption on cognition and regional brain volumes among older adults

Am J Alzheimers Dis Other Demen. 2015 Jun;30(4):364-74. doi: 10.1177/1533317514549411. Epub 2014 Sep 7.


This study utilized data from the Framingham Heart Study Offspring Cohort to examine the relationship between midlife and late-life alcohol consumption, cognitive functioning, and regional brain volumes among older adults without dementia or a history of abusing alcohol. The results from multiple linear regression models indicate that late life, but not midlife, alcohol consumption status is associated with episodic memory and hippocampal volume. Compared to late life abstainers, moderate consumers had larger hippocampal volume, and light consumers had higher episodic memory. The differences in episodic memory according to late life alcohol consumption status were no longer significant when hippocampal volume was included in the regression model. The findings from this study provide new evidence that hippocampal volume may contribute to the observed differences in episodic memory among older adults and late life alcohol consumption status.

Keywords: aging; alcohol consumption; brain volume; cognition; episodic memory; hippocampus.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging / drug effects
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Alcohol Drinking*
  • Beer
  • Brain / anatomy & histology*
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Cognition / drug effects
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Hippocampus / anatomy & histology
  • Hippocampus / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory, Episodic
  • Middle Aged
  • Wine