When teens go on a binge drinking episode, they may be doing serious damage to the sensitive "white matter" in their brain, a new MRI-based study suggests.
White matter is involved in relaying information between brain cells, the researchers said. This means that damage caused to the developing brain by bouts of heavy drinking could affect thinking and memory, even lowering school performance.
Although white matter impairment has been seen in the brains of adult alcoholics, "we were somewhat surprised that these adolescents who had histories of binge drinking showed significantly poorer quality of their white matter," said lead researcher Susan F. Tapert, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, and director of Substance Abuse/Mental Illness at the VA San Diego Healthcare System.
The cause of the damage is not fully understood, Tapert said.
The report was published in the April 22 online edition of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.
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About Jim Liebelt
Jim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University. Jim has over 25 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, and has been on the HomeWord staff since 1998. He has served over the years as a pastor, author, youth ministry trainer, adjunct college instructor and speaker. Jim’s culture blog and parenting articles appear on HomeWord.com. Jim is a contributing author of culture and parenting articles to Crosswalk.com. Jim and his wife Jenny live in Olympia, WA.
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