Parental Care and the Brain
For example, a study of young people indicates that those who start drinking during adolescence have smaller hippocampal memory areas than non-drinkers. Another study finds that following the consumption of about two to three drinks, people in their early twenties perform worse on memory tests than people in their late twenties. More recently researchers examined subjects aged 18 to 25 who reported a history of drinking about a six-pack on weekend nights. Compared with non-drinkers, they perform somewhat worse on memory tasks. Furthermore, their performance correlates with poor brain activity. Preliminary findings show similar results with younger teens who drink heavily (see images). Their brain response is also diminished, although they manage to perform okay on the tasks. The researchers plan to investigate further how various drinking histories affect different age groups.
Some scientists also believe that the immature young brain may put kids at a disadvantage when they encounter situations involving alcohol. Possibly, their brains can't provide the foresight that they should avoid drinking because it's dangerous. Also, once experimentation begins, brain areas that make a person feel good and want to drink again may be in an underdeveloped state and more easily influenced.
Overall, the research adds fire to an often-repeated message: Just say no.
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