Alcohol can trigger modifications in the structure and function of the growing brain, which continues to grow into an individual's mid 20s, and it might have repercussions reaching far beyond adolescence.
In adolescence, brain development is characterized by dramatic changes to the brain's structure, neural connections ("circuitry"), and physiology. These transformations in the brain disturb everything from emerging sexuality to emotionality and cognitive ability.
Not all parts of the adolescent brain mature at the same time, which might put an adolescent at a disadvantage in certain situations. The limbic areas of the brain mature sooner than the frontal lobes.
Ways Alcohol Disturbs the Brain
Alcohol alters a juvenile's brain development in numerous ways. The repercussions of minor alcohol consumption on specialized brain activities are summarized below.
Alcohol is a central nervous system sedative drug. Alcohol can appear to be a stimulant because, initially, it suppresses the portion of the brain that governs inhibitions.
CORTEX-- Alcohol hinders the cerebral cortex as it processes information from an individual's senses.
CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM-- When an individual thinks about something he wants his body to undertake, the central nervous system-- the brain and the spine-- sends out a signal to that portion of the body. Alcohol impedes the central nervous system, making the person think, converse, and move slower.
FRONTAL LOBES -- The brain's frontal lobes are necessary for organizing, creating ideas, decision making, and exercising self-discipline.
When alcohol affects the frontal lobes of the brain, an individual might find it hard to control his or her feelings and impulses. The person may act without thinking or might even get violent. Drinking alcohol over a long period of time can injure the frontal lobes forever.
HIPPOCAMPUS-- The hippocampus is the part of the human brain where memories are created.
Once alcohol reaches the hippocampus, a person may have trouble remembering a thing he or she just learned, like a person's name or a telephone number. This can take place after just one or two drinks.
Drinking a great deal of alcohol rapidly can cause a blackout-- not being able to recall entire events, like what he or she did last night.
If alcohol damages the hippocampus, a person might find it difficult to learn and to hang on to information.
CEREBELLUM-- The cerebellum is very important for coordination, to form thoughts, and attention. A person might have trouble with these skills when alcohol goes into the cerebellum. After drinking alcohol, a person's hands might be so tremulous that they can't touch or get hold of things properly, and they might lose their equilibrium and fall.
HYPOTHALAMUS-- The hypothalamus is a small part of the brain that does a fantastic variety of the physical body's housekeeping chores. Alcohol frustrates the operation of the hypothalamus. After a person consumes alcohol, blood pressure, appetite, being thirsty, and the urge to urinate intensify while body temperature and heart rate decrease.
Alcohol actually cools down the physical body. Drinking a lot of alcohol outdoors in cold weather can trigger an individual's body temperature level to drop below normal.
A person might have difficulty with these abilities once alcohol gets in the cerebellum. After drinking alcohol, an individual's hands may be so unsteady that they cannot touch or get hold of things normally, and they may fail to keep their equilibrium and tumble.
After a person alcoholic beverages alcohol, blood pressure, appetite, being thirsty, and the desire to urinate increase while body temperature and heart rate decline.
Alcohol in fact cools down the physical body. Consuming a lot of alcohol outdoors in cold weather can trigger a person's body temperature level to drop below normal.