Binge drinking effects on the developing adolescent brain

Original broadcast date: June 7, 2009

We tend to associate rapid developmental changes in cognition, socialization and behaviour with infants, toddlers and children. Parents try to promote positive changes and maximize their child’s potential by avoiding potentially hazardous materials, substances and poor food choices that could have a negative impact on their child’s development.

However, for adolescents, there is tendency to forget that they too follow the continuum of developmental stages. Sometimes their rapid physical growth becomes the benchmark that supplants our perception of their cognitive abilities and stage of development.

An MRI-based study published in the April 22 online edition of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research showed that binge drinking during adolescence might be damaging the white matter of the brain that is involved in relaying information between brain cells.

  • Dr. Susan Tapert, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, Director of the Substance Abuse / Mental Illness program at the VA San Diego Healthcare System and Acting Associate Chief of the VA San Diego Healthcare System Psychology Service

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