One negative behavior such as substance abuse or heavy alcohol drinking can lead college students toward a vicious cycle of poor lifestyle choices, lack of sleep, mental distress and low grades, according to new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York.
“We used a robust data-mining technique to identify associations between mental distress in college students with substance abuse, sleep, social behaviors, academic attitude and behaviors, and GPA (short-term and long-term as reflective of academic performance),” said Lina Begdache, assistant professor of Health and Wellness Studies at Binghamton University. “Positive behaviors such as abstinence from substance use, studious attitudes and responsibility toward work and family are reflective of a brain chemistry profile that supports mood and maturation of the prefrontal cortex of the brain. The latter matures last and supports impulse and emotional control as well as rationalization of thoughts.
“Interestingly, we identified potential cyclic behaviors that associate with severe mental distress that are linked to a change in brain chemistry that supports substance abuse, poor academic attitude and performance, poor sleep patterns, and neglect of family and work. The novelty of these findings is that we are proposing, based on the neuroscience of these behaviors, that one action may be leading to another until a vicious cycle sets in.”