California researchers who compared the brains of teen drinkers to non-drinkers found that young alcohol users suffered damage to nerve tissues that could cause attention deficits among boys and faulty visual information processing among girls.
NPR reported Jan. 25 that researcher Susan Tapert of the University of California at San Diego and colleagues studied the brains of 12- to 14-year-olds, starting before they began drinking and following them as some began using alcohol. Researchers found that those who binged on alcohol did worse on thinking and memory tests, but that the impairment differed by gender.
Adolescents, whose brains are still developing, are at particular risk from brain damage resulting from alcohol use, the researchers concluded. Taper’s research showed that teen drinking negatively affected both the white matter (nerve tissue) and hippocampus region of the brain.
The study appears in the December 2009 issue of the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors.
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COMMENTS ON THIS ARTICLE:
Posted by Brian McDonough on 29 Jan 10 10:03 AM EST
as one that is coming into the field of substance abuse & a recovering alcoholic, i know first hand that we, as clinicians, have to ‘get the word out’that drinking can be dangerous & it isn’t cool to get drunk & be a fool. it can be down right deadly. if you’re lucky, you get to talk about it & help others. we must educate our young.
Posted by John French on 29 Jan 10 11:25 AM EST
We have known for centuries, that heavy lifetime drinkers are at high risk for organic brain damage. This article only confirms that the damage is continuous, and cumulative, rather than sudden. Victims of OBD don’t just wake up one morning unable to find their brain. I am sure that it will one day be demonstrated that it starts with the first drink, even though the change is far too small to be recorded with today’s science.