Later, when sober, the students were asked to react to different flashing symbols.
There was no measurable difference in speed or accuracy of response between the two groups, and no deterioration over time.
With the more sober group, peak brain activity stayed at about 18 microvolts while the drinkers started at 20 microvolts in their first year and went up to 22 microvolts in their third year.
Emily Robinson, director of the campaign group Alcohol Concern, said: ‘This shows why we need to change the culture where it’s seen as the norm to drink excessively at university.
But Paul McCormack, of Oxford Brookes University Students’ Union, said: ‘Learning at university is not limited to the classroom.