Jan. 30, 2013 ? There is growing evidence for the lasting impact of alcohol on the brain.? Excessive alcohol use accounts for 4% of the global burden of disease, and binge drinking particularly is becoming an increasing health issue. A new review article published in Cortex highlights the significant changes in brain function and structure that can be caused by alcohol misuse in young people.
Functional signs of brain damage from alcohol misuse in young people mainly include deficits in visual learning and memory as well as executive functions. These functions are controlled by the hippocampus and frontal structures of the brain, which are not fully mature until around 25 years of age. Structural signs of alcohol misuse in young people include shrinking of the brain and significant changes to white matter tracts.
Age of first use may be considered to trigger alcohol misuse. According to the researchers however, changing the legal drinking age is not the answer. In Australia the legal drinking age is 18, three years earlier than in the US. Despite the difference in legal drinking age, the age of first use (and associated problems) is the same between the two countries.
Instead, the authors stressed the need for early intervention, by identifying markers and thresholds of risky drinking behaviour at an early stage, while individuals are in vulnerable stages of brain development.
Share this story on Facebook, Twitter, and Google:
Other social bookmarking and sharing tools:
The above story is reprinted from materials provided by Elsevier, via AlphaGalileo.
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.
- Daniel F. Hermens, Jim Lagopoulos, Juliette Tobias-Webb, Tamara De Regt, Glenys Dore, Lisa Juckes, Noeline Latt, Ian B. Hickie. Pathways to alcohol-induced brain impairment in young people: A review. Cortex, 2013; 49 (1): 3 DOI: 10.1016/j.cortex.2012.05.021
Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.