Drinking Alcohol Can Trigger Changes In The Function Of The Developing Brain

Alcohol can trigger changes in the structure and operation of the growing brain, which continues to develop into an individual's mid 20s, and it might have consequences reaching far beyond adolescence.

In adolescence, brain development is defined by remarkable modifications to the brain's structure, neural connections ("circuitry"), and physiology. These changes in the brain alter everything from emerging sexuality to emotionality and judgment.

Not all parts of the adolescent brain mature simultaneously, which might put a youth at a disadvantage in particular scenarios. The limbic regions of the brain mature earlier than the frontal lobes. The limbic areas control emotions and are connected with an adolescent's decreased level of sensitivity to risk. The frontal lobes are accountable for self-control, judgment, reasoning, analytic skills, and impulse control. Differences in maturation amongst parts of the brain can result in impulsive choices or actions and a disregard for consequences.

Ways Alcohol Alters the Human Brain Alcohol affects an adolescent's brain development in several ways. The effects of juvenile alcohol consumption on particular brain functions are detailed below. Alcohol is a central nervous system sedative. Alcohol can seem to be a stimulant because, to begin with, it suppresses the portion of the human brain that regulates inhibitions.

CEREBRAL CORTEX-- Alcohol impedes the cerebral cortex as it works with information from an individual's senses.

CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM-- When an individual thinks about something he desires his body to do, the central nervous system-- the brain and the spine-- sends out a signal to that part of the body. Alcohol hinders the central nervous system, making the individual think, speak, and move slower.

FRONTAL LOBES -- The human brain's frontal lobes are very important for organizing, creating ideas, decision making, and employing self-discipline.

An individual might find it hard to control his or her emotions and urges once alcohol impairs the frontal lobes of the brain. The person may act without thinking or might even become violent. Consuming alcohol over a long period of time can harm the frontal lobes permanently.

HIPPOCAMPUS-- The hippocampus is the portion of the brain in which memories are created. Once alcohol gets to the hippocampus, a person may have trouble remembering something he or she just learned, like a name or a phone number. This can occur after just one or two alcoholic beverages. Drinking a lot of alcohol rapidly can cause a blackout-- not being able to remember entire happenings, such as what he or she did the night before. A person may find it hard to learn and to hold on to knowledge if alcohol damages the hippocampus.

CEREBELLUM-- The cerebellum is very important for coordination, ideas, and awareness. When alcohol goes into the cerebellum, a person might have difficulty with these abilities. After consuming alcohol, an individual's hands might be so tremulous that they cannot touch or grab things normally, and they may lose their balance and tumble.

HYPOTHALAMUS-- The hypothalamus is a little part of the brain that does an amazing number of the body's housekeeping chores. Alcohol frustrates the work of the hypothalamus. After an individual drinks alcohol, blood pressure, hunger, being thirsty, and the urge to urinate intensify while body temperature and heart rate decrease.

Alcohol actually cools down the body. drinking a lot of alcohol outdoors in cold weather can trigger an individual's body temperature level to fall below normal.

A person might have difficulty with these skills once alcohol gets in the cerebellum. After drinking alcohol, an individual's hands might be so unsteady that they cannot touch or get hold of things properly, and they might fail to keep their balance and fall.

After a person drinks alcohol, blood pressure, hunger, being thirsty, and the desire to urinate increase while body temperature levels and heart rate decrease.

Alcohol in fact chills the body. Drinking a lot of alcohol outdoors in cold weather conditions can cause a person's physical body temperature to fall below normal.

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