The brains of teens who have a higher probability of turning to binge drinking look different from their peers' brains, a new study from researchers at the University of California San Diego shows.
According to lead researcher Dr. Lindsay Squeglia, these differences in brain development form before teens begin drinking and affect more than just their choice to drink.
For the study, which appeared Wednesday in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, Squeglia and her colleagues followed the development of teens aged 12 to 16 over three years.
They took base-line MRIs of all the teens at the beginning of the study and then again after three years. Particular attention was paid to those who became heavy drinkers over that time period.
They found the heavy drinkers showed less brain development in the working memory section of the brain responsible for higher-order decision-making. Squeglia said this finding is particularly significant.
"Their brains should become more efficient as they get older so what we would expect over time is less brain activation," she said. "That's what we saw with the control group. We saw just the opposite with the heavy drinkers."
by RTT Staff Writer
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