In a study described in the journal Scientific Reports, Duke Health researchers sought to understand how intermittent binge drinking changes the hippocampus -- a region long known to be critical for learning and memory, and also linked to anxiety -- and whether the drug, donepezil, could reverse those changes. Rats were used as a model for teens and young adults who binge drink a few times a week.
"Research has begun to show that human adolescents who drink early and consistently across the adolescent years have some deficits in brain function that can affect learning and memory, as well as anxiety and social behaviors," said senior author Scott Swartzwelder, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry at Duke.
Changes - Deficits - Brain - Function - Swartzwelder
"The changes can be subtle, but who wants even subtle deficits in their brain function or how they think and feel?" Swartzwelder said. "Studies in animal models show that adolescent alcohol exposure can change the ways nerve cells communicate with each other, and the level of plasticity in brain circuits -- compromising the ability of the brain to change and adapt. These changes can be seen in adulthood -- long after the alcohol exposure has ended"
Because they can't ethically have young people drink alcohol to study its effects, researchers use the developing brains of rats to understand the effects of "intermittent alcohol exposure," resulting in blood-alcohol levels that are consistent with those achieved by human adolescent drinkers.
Scientists - Addition - Brain - Inflammation - Alcohol
The scientists observed that in addition to brain inflammation, adolescent alcohol exposure inhibited the birth of new neurons in the hippocampus, Swartzwelder said, and may even accelerate neuronal death -- making it...
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