Teens who binge drink are at a risk of turning absent-minded and forgetful for years to come, because of the harm alcohol is doing to their brains, according to a new study.
A team from Northumbria and Keele universities has shown that youngsters who binge demonstrate significant deterioration before reaching their 20s.
Dr Heffernan, a Northumbria University psychologist, looked at the effect of alcohol on memory in 60 youngsters aged 16 to 19.
Around half were effectively binge alcoholics, drinking an average of 30 units on two nights out - the equivalent of a bottle of spirits - while the others drank rarely or never.
The teenagers, who all went to college or university in the North-East of England, were asked how often they had forgotten things they planned or needed to do, such as locking the door, meeting a friend or posting a letter.
They were also asked to play a computer game, which required them to remember and complete tasks as they walked along a fictional high street, as a more objective measure of memory loss.
The binge drinkers did significantly worse at the game, completing up to a third fewer tasks properly, the British Psychological Society's annual conference in Dublin heard.
Dr Heffernan said drinkers are unaware of the harm they may be doing to their brain.
"We found no differences between binge drinkers and non-binge drinkers in the self-reporting questionnaires, but when it came to the video the binge drinkers recalled significantly less than the non-binge drinkers," BBC quoted Dr Heffernan, as saying.
"Although from their own reports they appeared to have good memories, they didn't perform as well in the video test. The binge drinkers recalled up to a third less of the items, a significant difference," he added.
He said it was possible that the pre-frontal cortex or hippocampus regions of the brain were being impaired.
"There is evidence that excess alcohol and binge drinking in particular damages parts of the brain that underpin everyday memory," he said.
"Not only may these teenagers be harming their memory, if their brains are still developing they could be storing up problems for the future," he added.