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What Is BARCS?

    The BARCS (Brain and Alcohol Research with College Students) study is an important effort sponsored by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, designed to answer questions frequently asked by scientists, legislators, students and users of alcohol, but whose answers are essentially unknown.

    Alcohol is the most widely used recreational substance in the United States and most Western cultures, but despite millions of users and years of study by researchers, many important facts are still essentially unknown about alcohol's effects. The nature of the relationship between adolescent alcohol use and cognitive performance is uncertain. Some studies find no neuropsychological (cognitive) problems in adolescents with alcohol or other substance use,58-60 while others report significantly poorer cognitive functioning relative to non-using youth. There are well known acute cognitive effects of alcohol when people are intoxicated, but chronic effects, if any, are poorly explored, especially at moderate drinking levels.

    Many prior studies of college student drinking have been small scale in nature, or have made important assumptions about the people they are studying that prevented them from being fully open-minded about the results. Because BARCS is both large-scale, follows people over time and is representative of college students from diverse backgrounds it should be able to address many of these unanswered questions more definitively.

    One thing that's important to emphasize though is the greater the number of people participating in the study, the more generalizable the results.

Click here and here to download the study brochure!

Hartford Hospital, Institue of Living, Olin Neuropsychiatry Research Center