About this Research Topic
Alcohol hangover refers to the combination of mental and physical symptoms experienced after a single episode of heavy drinking, starting when blood alcohol concentration approaches zero. Alcohol hangover has a huge impact on behavior and society and results in serious socioeconomic consequences such as absenteeism and reduced productivity, and increased risk of accidents and injury. Despite this, alcohol hangover is relatively under-researched, particularly when compared with effects of alcohol intoxication. This Research Topic comprises investigations into the physiological contributors and neurocognitive consequences of alcohol hangover using a variety of methodologies.
Alcohol hangover symptoms have been attributed to several factors that likely interact in a complex manner. There are a variety of non-alcohol factors that may contribute to hangover symptoms. These include the toxic effects of biologically active chemicals in alcoholic beverages such as congeners. Other behaviors commonly associated with drinking sessions, such as disrupted sleep and restricted food intake may contribute, as do certain personal characteristics such as familial risk for alcoholism. Alcohol-related causes include direct effects of alcohol as well as the effects of compounds produced during alcohol metabolism (e.g. acetaldehyde). As well as the direct physiological effects of alcohol on the brain and organs, there are changes in other systems, notably in immune system parameters. An imbalance to the cytokine pathway and increased concentrations of proinflammatory cytokines appear to directly contribute to the symptoms of nausea, headache, fatigue and worsened mood and neurocognitive functioning associated with hangover.
Subjective and neurocognitive impairments are the most relevant functional consequences of an alcohol hangover and contribute to the high socioeconomic costs of hangovers. Alcohol hangover significantly lowers self-reported mood and increases anxiety, depression, fatigue and emotional symptoms. Changes in neurocognitive functioning are manifest by impairments to attention, psychomotor performance and memory.
Impairment during the alcohol hangover state can potentially have major real-life implications when considering daily activities such as driving and working in safety-sensitive occupations. Despite drivers admitting that their own driving ability is worse and less safe during the hangover state, many continue to drive. Impairments to driving ability during the hangover state have been found to be clinically relevant and comparable to driving with a BAC of >0.05%.
This Research Topic will further characterize the neurocognitive effects of hangover, and elucidate the underlying mechanisms. There will be a particular focus on biobehavioral processes including changes to immune system parameters and determination of functional consequences in relation to neurocognitive functioning.
Keywords: alcohol, hangover, cognition, biomarkers
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