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Go Ask Mom

Teen Drinking: This is your brain ... this is your brain after intermittent binge drinking

Posted November 10, 2015

Here's an image to show your kids when you're having the alcohol talk (which should happen often and regularly!).

Researchers from Duke Medicine and the VA Medical Center in Durham published a paper last week that explores the effects of alcohol on the adolescent brain.

Check out the image they came up with. Studies have shown that just a few sessions of binge drinking during adolescence can knock out neurons (shown in the blue arch) in the hippocampus, the brain’s memory core, according to a Duke press release.

Duke researchers also have found that binge drinking can send hippocampal cells called astrocytes (shown in green in the image) awry later in adulthood, potentially impairing the brain’s ability to form new synapses and heal itself from injury, the release says. Researchers didn’t see immediate effects on astrocytes, but once the animals reached adulthood, the cells appeared to go into overdrive.

The study, published Nov. 5 in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, used a rodent model as a surrogate for the adolescent human brain. The researchers exposed the animals to alcohol doses that would result in a blood-alcohol concentration of about .15 in humans. (You're legally impaired at .08 or higher).

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