Binge drinking in young adulthood: What happens to the brain?

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2011-06-27 19:01

Researchers have shown with brain scans how binge drinking in young adulthood thins an area of the brain responsible for higher thinking, decision making and paying attention.

In studies, four or more drinks at a time for females age 18 to 25 and five or more drinks for males was found to lead to damage in the brain’s grey matter.

The possible effect of binge drinking is serious injury to parts of the brain that send signals, according to researchers from University of Cincinnati.

Tim McQueeny, a doctoral student in the UC Department of Psychology says, “We have seen evidence that binge drinking is associated with reduced integrity in the white matter, the brain’s highways that communicate neuron messaging, but alcohol may affect the gray matter differently than the white matter.”

McQueeny examined the brains of 29 weekend drinkers, age 18 to 25.

What he found was thinning in the cortical area of the brain that correlated with higher alcohol intake during binge drinking episodes.

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