This is what happens when you have a blackout

Are you - ever in the distant past, or recently during the corona period - have you ever lost part of the evening after tapping a large amount of alcohol? How does such a black hole in your memory, also called a blackout, actually arise? And what is the effect of regular blackouts on your brain?

Maybe it has happened to you: you wake up after a night out and except for a few snatches, the evening seems like one big blur. You don't remember who you spoke to, what you said, did or how you got home. In short: you have a blackout. Such a black hole in your memory occurs when you drink a lot of alcohol in a short time (think about eight to ten glasses of alcohol on average). So what happens in your brain?

Short circuit in the hippocampus

Your memory consists of short-term memory and long-term memory. In the former you store all the information you come into contact with during the day. The hippocampus (the part of the brain that also controls your short-term memory) stores these experiences as memories for a few seconds to a few minutes. After that, due to limited storage capacity, all unimportant information is deleted again. So you forget this one.

Important information - such as the name of someone you meet or that big news from your friend - moves into your long-term memory. And that's where drinking too much goes wrong, because alcohol affects the flow of information from your short- to your long-term memory. It can even completely shut down the hippocampus. In that case, new memories disappear completely from your memory. So you may have completely erased the fantastic news your friend told you in the pub yesterday. In that case you have a blackout. The funny thing about a blackout is that you don't necessarily have to appear very drunk to the people you've been talking to.

The little brother of the blackout is the grayout. In that case, for example, you still remember who you spoke to, but only snippets of your entire conversation.

A blackout is a warning

In addition to the unpleasant experience of not knowing exactly what you have said or done, a blackout is a poisoning phenomenon and a strong warning from your body to drink less in the future. Every blackout deals a heavy blow to your brain. The damage that your brain incurs as a result can cause permanent memory problems with regular blackouts. Regular gaps in the memory are therefore an urgent call from your brain to you to take a closer look at your drinking habits. Especially when you know that damage that the brain has once suffered is irreversible.




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