Is your teenaged son or daughter a binge-drinker? Beware, he or she is more likely to have altered brain activity, which may indicate delayed brain development and be an early sign of brain damage, researchers have warned. The findings showed that the brains of adolescents, which are yet in the developing stages, might be more vulnerable to the effects of alcohol abuse than adults.
Researchers from the University of Minho in Portugal, examining electrical activity in various brain regions in college students found that binge drinkers had altered brain activity at rest. They also had significantly higher measurements of specific electrophysiological parameters, known as beta and theta oscillations, in brain regions called the right temporal lobe and bilateral occipital cortex.
These changes might indicate a decreased ability to respond to external stimuli and potential difficulties in information processing capacity in young binge drinkers, and may represent some of the first signs of alcohol-induced brain damage, the researchers said, in the paper published in Frontiers in Behavioural Neuroscience. “These features might be down to the particularly harmful effects of alcohol on young brains that are still in development, perhaps by delaying neuromaturational (child development) processes,” said lead author Eduardo Lopez-Caneda, from the varsity.
“It would be a positive outcome if educational and health institutions used these results to try to reduce alcohol consumption in risky drinkers,” Lopez-Caneda said. Binge was describes as drinking five or more drinks for men and four or more for women within a two-hour period. Previous research has linked binge drinking to a variety of negative consequences including neurocognitive deficits, poor academic performance, and risky sexual behaviour.