Adolescence Alcohol Exposure could cause negative Changes in Brain in Adulthood

Adolescence Alcohol Exposure could cause negative Changes in Brain in Adulthood

A research has showed that repeated alcohol exposure during adolescence causes long-last changes in the region of the brain associated with learning and memory. The research was led by scientists at Duke Medicine who used a rodent model as a surrogate for humans.

Findings of the study have been published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. The study has helped understand how alcohol exposure during adolescence can cause cellular and synaptic abnormalities that negatively affect behavior.

Law allows people over 18 to buy and consume alcohol as they are considered adult. However, the brain continues developing and refining all the way into the mid-20s, said lead author Mary-Louise Risher, Ph.D., a post-doctoral researcher in the Duke Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences..

“It's important for young people to know that when they drink heavily during this period of development, there could be changes occurring that have a lasting impact on memory and other cognitive functions”, he added.

Earlier studies have also helped understand that alcohol exposure to adolescent animals make them less likely to perform memory tasks effectively than other animals after they grow into adults. The latest study was conducted with an aim to determine how these impairments manifest at the cellular level in the region of the brain known as the hippocampus, which is responsible for memory and learning.

A cellular mechanism called long-term potentiation, or LTP, was measured by the researchers applying small electrical stimuli to the hippocampus. LTP is the strengthening of brain synapses as they learn new tasks or conjure memories.

The researchers found that adolescent alcohol exposure alters the way the hippocampus and other regions of the brain function and actual appearance of the cells. An immature appearance of both the LTP and the dendritic spines is seen in the adulthood because of adolescent alcohol exposure, said the researchers.

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