You may not think of it much as a teenager, but all that binge drinking won’t do you any good once you reach adulthood. That’s what was revealed on a new study on rats that seemingly proves adult brains affected by teenage binge drinking act differently than adult brains of those who weren’t into such activities in their youth.
According to the study, adult brains that were regularly exposed to wild drinking escapades during adolescent and teenage years tend to show structural and functional abnormalities in the hippocampus, the part of the brain that’s typically associated with learning and memory. The researchers had served alcohol to young rats whose brains were still developing, and it was discovered that they had memory problems and other issues once they reached adulthood. These include attention deficit and poor judgment, and an inability to learn new skills for themselves.
But what constitutes as binge drinking anyway? The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines the term as drinking that increases an individual’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 grams per deciliter or more. For men, this would usually be five drinks or more, and for women, this would be four or more drinks, all within the span of two hours. And about 90 percent of all juvenile drinking sessions among individuals aged under 21 involves some form of binge drinking or another.
“In the eyes of the law, once people reach the age of 18, they are considered adult, but the brain continues to mature and refine all the way into the mid-20s,” said study lead Mary-Louise Risher of the Duke Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. “It’s important for young people to know that when they drink heavily during this period of development, there could be changes occurring that have a lasting impact on memory and other cognitive functions.”