Alcohol consumption can trigger modifications in the architecture and operation of the growing brain, which continues to mature into a person's mid 20s, and it might have repercussions reaching far beyond teenage years.
In adolescence, brain growth is characterized by dramatic changes to the brain's architecture, neural connections ("electrical wiring"), and physiology. These transformations in the brain disturb everything from emerging sexuality to emotions and cognitive ability.
Not all portions of the juvenile brain mature simultaneously, which may put a juvenile at a disadvantage in specific scenarios. The limbic regions of the brain mature earlier than the frontal lobes. The limbic areas regulate feelings and are related to an adolescent's reduced sensitivity to risk. The frontal lobes are accountable for self-regulation, judgment, reasoning, analytic skills, and impulse control. Variations in maturation among parts of the brain can result in careless choices or actions and a neglect for repercussions.
How Alcohol Alters the Human Brain Alcohol affects an adolescent's brain development in numerous ways. The results of minor drinking on specific brain functions are summarized below. Alcohol is a central nervous system sedative. Alcohol can seem to be a stimulant because, before anything else, it suppresses the portion of the brain that controls inhibitions.
CORTEX-- Alcohol impedes the cortex as it processes details from a person'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 spinal cord-- sends out a signal to that portion of the physical 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 essential for organizing, creating ideas, decision making, and using self-control.
An individual may find it difficult to control his or her emotions and urges when alcohol affects the frontal lobes of the brain. The person might act without thinking or may even get violent. Consuming alcohol over a long period of time can harm the frontal lobes permanently.
HIPPOCAMPUS-- The hippocampus is the part of the human brain in which memories are generated. When alcohol reaches the hippocampus, an individual might have trouble recalling a thing she or he just learned, like a person's name or a phone number. This can happen after just one or two alcoholic beverages. Drinking a great deal of alcohol quickly can trigger a blackout-- not being able to recollect entire occurrences, such as what exactly she or he did last night. If alcohol harms the hippocampus, an individual might find it tough to learn and to hold on to information.
CEREBELLUM-- The cerebellum is necessary for coordination, thoughts, and attention. Once alcohol enters the cerebellum, a person might have difficulty with these skills. After consuming alcohol, a person's hands may be so shaky that they can't touch or get hold of things properly, and they may fail to keep their equilibrium and fall.
HYPOTHALAMUS-- The hypothalamus is a small 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 drinks alcohol, blood pressure, hunger, thirst, and the impulse to urinate intensify while physical body temperature and heart rate decrease.
Alcohol actually chills the body. Consuming a lot of alcohol outdoors in cold weather conditions can trigger a person's body temperature to drop below normal.
An individual may have difficulty with these skills once alcohol goes into the cerebellum. After drinking alcohol, an individual's hands may be so unsteady that they can't touch or get hold of things normally, and they might fail to keep their balance and tumble.
After an individual drinks alcohol, blood pressure, hunger, being thirsty, and the desire to urinate increase while physical body temperature and heart rate decline.
Alcohol actually chills the body. Consuming a lot of alcohol outdoors in cold weather conditions can trigger an individual's physical body temperature level to drop below normal.