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Study reveals possible brain damage in young adult binge-drinkers
Date:6/27/2011

tors and possibly altering the ways in which the brain is still growing," he says.

The findings affect a significant population. A publication from the National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that 42 percent of young American adults between 18 and 25 have engaged in binge drinking.

McQueeny adds that the depressant effects of alcohol emerge later in life, so for young adults, the effect of alcohol can be very stimulating and activate tolerance over time.

"In the past, in terms of what's known about the physical toll of alcohol, the focus on neurobiology has been in pathological populations and adult populations who were disproportionately male, so there was a significant gap in research in terms of when people started risky drinking. We're looking at developmental aspects at an age when binge drinking rates are highest, and we're also looking at gender effects," says McQueeny. "There might actually be indications of early micro-structural damage without the onset of pathological symptoms such as abuse, or dependence on alcohol."

McQueeny's advisor, UC Psychology Professor Krista Lisdahl Medina, served as senior author on the paper. She adds, "Our preliminary evidence has found a correlation between increased abstinence of binge drinking and recovery of gray matter volume in the cerebellum. Additional research examining brain recovery with abstinence is needed."

In terms of educating young adults about responsible drinking, Medina says there appear to be better efforts about communicating the dangers of drinking and driving. "However, people can still be doing damage to their brain as a result of the prevalence and acceptance of binge drinking. There is also evidence that drinking below the binge level may be less harmful," she says.


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Contact: Dawn Fuller
dawn.fuller@uc.edu
513-556-1823
University of Cincinnati
Source:Eurekalert

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