How Binge Drinking During Teenage Years Affects the Adult Brain
The Journal of Neuroscience recently published a study on how binge drinking alcohol during teenage years has a lasting effect on the brain into adulthood. Researchers used rats to study how steady intake of alcohol changes the region of the brain focused on reasoning and decision-making. The researches split the male adolescent rats into two groups. They fed one group sweetened alcohol and the other group sweetened water. Both groups of rats had daily access to these beverages twice a day for two weeks.
The results showed that the rats who were given alcohol had less myelin, which is the coating on nerve fibers that helps speed up the transmission of electrical signals between nerve cells. They also had lower performance scores on a memory test than the mice given sweetened water. Researchers repeated this test when the rats entered adulthood. They found that the myelin levels were still reduced in the rats who were given alcohol.
Heather Richardson, the study co-author, stated in a news release that “These findings suggest that alcohol may negatively affect brain development in humans and have long-term consequences on areas of the brain that are important for controlling impulses and making decisions.”