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Alcohol Abuse in Adolescents Can Affect the Brain

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A recent study by the University of Eastern Finland and the University Hospital of Kuopio has seen a "critical thinking" in young people who were heavy drinkers of alcohol during their teenage years.

The results of the research, published in the journal Addiction, reveal that parts of the brain that develop before the age of 20 may be disrupted as a result of abuse of alcoholic beverages.

The study was performed using magnetic resonance imaging techniques applied to the brain structure of healthy youngsters that were alcohol users during their adolescence. They also tested control subjects of the same age that were light drinkers. Through three transverse phases performed at the same time. Over 10 years, with ages between 13 and 18 years at the beginning of the investigation.

All participants had good academic results and did not show appreciable differences in mental health problems, while drinkers had not been diagnosed with any alcohol abuse disorder. However, significant statistical differences between the two groups were observed.

Among "drinkers" there is a decrease in the volume of gray matter in the anterior cingulate cortex (an area of the brain involved in functions such as regulation of blood pressure and heart rate, and certain functions of higher level, such as reward anticipation, decision making, impulse control and emotion), as well as in the right insula (also linked to the latter functions of higher level).

According to the researchers, the excessive consumption of alcohol can interrupt the maturation process of the areas mentioned, particularly important in the control of impulses and in the sensitivity to the negative subjective effects of alcohol, so that these changes of volume can play an important role in the development of a substance use disorder later in life.

The exact mechanism behind these structural changes is not known, but it appears that some of them may be reversible if alcohol consumption is significantly reduced. And, as always, from Uvinum we recommend - a moderate and responsible consumption of alcohol. Relax and enjoy the pleasure of a glass of good wine without overdoing it.

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