Alcohol Consumption Can Cause Alterations In The Architecture And Operation Of The Growing Brain

Alcohol consumption can cause alterations in the structure and operation of the developing brain, which continues to develop into a person's mid 20s, and it might have repercussions reaching far beyond teenage years.

In adolescence, brain development is characterized by dramatic changes to the brain's architecture, neural connections ("circuitry"), and physiology. These transformations in the brain disturb everything from developing sexuality to emotions and judgment.

Not all portions of the adolescent brain mature at the same time, which might put a youth at a disadvantage in certain scenarios. For example, the limbic areas of the brain mature quicker than the frontal lobes. The limbic regions regulate emotions and are related to an adolescent's reduced sensitivity to risk. The frontal lobes are responsible for self-regulation, judgment, reasoning, analytic skills, and impulse control. Variations in maturation among parts of the brain can lead to careless choices or acts and a neglect for repercussions.

Ways Alcohol Alters the Human Brain
Alcohol alters an adolescent's brain development in numerous ways. The effects of adolescent drinking on specific brain activities are discussed below.
Alcohol is a central nervous system sedative drug. Alcohol can seem to be a stimulant because, before anything else, it depresses the part of the brain that controls inhibitions.

CORTEX-- Alcohol slows down the cerebral cortex as it works with information from a person's senses.

CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM-- When an individual thinks about something he desires his body to do, the central nervous system-- the brain and the spine-- sends a signal to that part of the physical body. Alcohol impedes the central nervous system, making the person think, communicate, and move less quickly.

FRONTAL LOBES -- The human brain's frontal lobes are important for organizing, forming concepts, making decisions, and exercising self-control.

When alcohol impacts the frontal lobes of the brain, a person might find it hard to control his/her feelings and impulses. The individual might act without thinking or may even get violent. Consuming alcohol over an extended period of time can injure the frontal lobes forever.

HIPPOCAMPUS-- The hippocampus is the part of the human brain in which memories are generated.
When alcohol gets to the hippocampus, a person might have difficulty recollecting a thing she or he just learned, such as a name or a telephone number. This can happen after just a couple of alcoholic beverages.
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Drinking a lot of alcohol quickly can cause a blackout-- not being able to recollect entire occurrences, like what he or she did the night before.
If alcohol damages the hippocampus, an individual may find it tough to learn and to hold on to information.

CEREBELLUM-- The cerebellum is important for coordination, ideas, and awareness. A person might have difficulty with these abilities once alcohol gets in the cerebellum. After consuming alcohol, an individual's hands may be so shaky that they can't touch or get hold of things properly, and they might fail to keep their equilibrium and tumble.

HYPOTHALAMUS-- The hypothalamus is a small part of the brain that does an amazing number of the body's housekeeping chores. Alcohol upsets the operation of the hypothalamus. After an individual drinks alcohol, blood pressure, appetite, being thirsty, and the impulse to urinate intensify while physical body temperature level and heart rate decrease.

Alcohol in fact chills the body. Consuming a lot of alcohol outdoors in cold weather can cause a person's body temperature level to drop below normal.

An individual might have difficulty with these abilities once alcohol enters the cerebellum. After consuming alcohol, a person's hands may be so shaky that they can't touch or take hold of things properly, and they may lose their balance and fall.

After an individual drinks alcohol, blood pressure, hunger, thirst, and the urge to urinate increase while physical body temperature and heart rate decrease.

Alcohol in fact chills the body. Drinking a lot of alcohol outdoors in cold weather can trigger an individual's physical body temperature level to drop below normal.