Alcohol consumption can trigger modifications in the structure and function of the growing brain, which continues to develop into a person's mid 20s, and it may have consequences reaching far beyond adolescence.
In adolescence, brain growth is characterized by dramatic modifications to the brain's structure, neural connections ("electrical wiring"), and physiology. These transformations in the brain alter everything from developing sexuality to emotions and cognitive ability.
Not all portions of the adolescent brain mature simultaneously, which might put a youth at a disadvantage in particular situations. The limbic areas of the brain mature earlier than the frontal lobes. The limbic regions regulate emotions and are connected with a juvenile's lowered sensitivity to risk. The frontal lobes are accountable for self-control, judgment, reasoning, analytic skills, and impulse control. Differences in maturation among parts of the brain can result in rash choices or acts and a disregard for repercussions.
How Alcohol Alters the Human Brain Alcohol alters a juvenile's brain growth in numerous ways. The results of minor drinking on specialized brain activities are detailed below. Alcohol is a central nervous system sedative. Alcohol can appear to be a stimulant because, initially, it depresses the part of the human brain that controls inhibitions.
CORTEX-- Alcohol reduces the cortex as it works with information from an individual's senses.
CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM-- When a person thinks about something he wants his body to do, the central nervous system-- the brain and the spine-- sends out a signal to that portion of the body. Alcohol slows down the central nervous system, making the individual think, communicate, and move more slowly.
FRONTAL LOBES -- The human brain's frontal lobes are very important for organizing, creating concepts, decision making, and using self-discipline.
When alcohol impacts the frontal lobes of the brain, a person may find it difficult to manage his/her feelings and impulses. The individual may act without thinking or might even get violent. Drinking alcohol over an extended period of time can harm the frontal lobes permanently.
HIPPOCAMPUS-- The hippocampus is the portion of the human brain in which memories are created. When alcohol gets to the hippocampus, an individual might have difficulty remembering something she or he just learned, such as a person's name or a telephone number. This can occur after just one or two alcoholic beverages. Drinking a great deal of alcohol quickly can trigger a blackout-- not having the ability to recollect whole occurrences, like what exactly she or he did the night before. If alcohol damages the hippocampus, a person may find it hard to learn and to hang on to information.
CEREBELLUM-- The cerebellum is very important for coordination, thoughts, and attention. An individual may have trouble with these skills once alcohol gets in the cerebellum. After consuming alcohol, an individual's hands might be so shaky that they can't touch or get hold of things properly, and they may lose their equilibrium and fall.
HYPOTHALAMUS-- The hypothalamus is a little part of the brain that does a remarkable number of the physical body's housekeeping chores. Alcohol frustrates the operation of the hypothalamus. After a person consumes alcohol, blood pressure, appetite, thirst, and the need to urinate increase while body temperature and heart rate decrease.
Alcohol in fact cools down the body. Consuming a lot of alcohol outdoors in cold weather can trigger an individual's physical body temperature to drop below normal.
An individual may have trouble with these skills when alcohol goes into the cerebellum. After drinking alcohol, a person's hands might be so shaky that they cannot touch or get hold of things normally, and they might fail to keep their balance and fall.
After an individual alcoholic beverages alcohol, blood pressure, appetite, thirst, and the desire to urinate increase while body temperature levels and heart rate decline.
Alcohol in fact cools down the body. Drinking a lot of alcohol outdoors in cold weather conditions can cause an individual's body temperature level to drop below normal.