Nav: Home

Young binge drinkers show altered brain activity

September 14, 2017

Researchers have studied the brain activity of young binge-drinking college students in Spain, and found distinctive changes in brain activity, which may indicate delayed brain development and be an early sign of brain damage.

For many students, college involves a lot of socializing at parties and at bars, and alcohol is a common factor in these social environments. Excessive alcohol use, in the form of binge drinking, is extremely common among college students, and one study has estimated that as many as one third of young North Americans and Europeans binge drink.

So, what defines binge drinking? The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism describes a binge as drinking five or more drinks for men and four or more for women within a two-hour period, and for many college students, these limits wouldn't equate to a particularly heavy night. Previous research has linked binge drinking to a variety of negative consequences including neurocognitive deficits, poor academic performance, and risky sexual behavior.

While numerous studies have shown that the brains of chronic alcoholics have altered brain activity, there is also evidence that bingeing can change adolescents' brains. Eduardo López-Caneda, of the University of Minho in Portugal, investigates this phenomenon.

"A number of studies have assessed the effects of binge drinking in young adults during different tasks involving cognitive processes such as attention or working memory," says López-Caneda. "However, there are hardly any studies assessing if the brains of binge drinkers show differences when they are at rest, and not focused on a task."

In a recent study published in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, López-Caneda and colleagues set out to see if the resting brains of binge-drinking college students showed any differences compared with those of their non-bingeing counterparts.

The researchers recruited first year college students from a university in Spain, and asked them to complete a questionnaire about their drinking habits. Students that had participated in at least one binge within the previous month were considered to be binge drinkers, whereas non-bingers had never binged before. By attaching electrodes to the students' scalps, the scientists could assess electrical activity in various brain regions.

Compared with the non-bingers, the binge drinkers demonstrated altered brain activity at rest. They showed significantly higher measurements of specific electrophysiological parameters, known as beta and theta oscillations, in brain regions called the right temporal lobe and bilateral occipital cortex.

Surprisingly, previous studies have found very similar alterations in the brains of adult chronic alcoholics. While the young bingers in this study might occasionally consume alcohol to excess, they did not fit the criteria for alcoholism. So, what does this mean?

The changes might indicate a decreased ability to respond to external stimuli and potential difficulties in information processing capacity in young binge drinkers, and may represent some of the first signs of alcohol-induced brain damage.

The brains of adolescents are still developing, meaning that they might be more vulnerable to the effects of alcohol abuse. "These features might be down to the particularly harmful effects of alcohol on young brains that are still in development, perhaps by delaying neuromaturational processes," says López-Caneda.

The researchers stress that they need to carry out further studies to confirm if the features they have observed in these young binge drinkers are caused by their bingeing, and if their brain development might be impaired. However, the results suggest that bingeing has tangible effects on the young brain, comparable with some of those seen in chronic alcoholics. "It would be a positive outcome if educational and health institutions used these results to try to reduce alcohol consumption in risky drinkers," says López-Caneda.
-end-


Frontiers

Related Binge Drinking Articles:

How serious is binge drinking among college students with disabilities?
A new study finds that college students with disabilities binge drink more often than their non-disabled student peers.
Effective intervention for binge drinking in adolescents
An intervention program based on school class groups has a preventive effect on subsequent drinking behavior, especially binge drinking, in adolescents who had previously consumed alcohol.
Binge drinking may quickly lead to liver damage
Alcohol consumed during just seven weeks of intermittent binge drinking harms the liver in ways that more moderate daily drinking does not, according to researchers at UC San Francisco.
Teenage binge drinking can affect brain functions in future offspring
Repeated binge drinking during adolescence can affect brain functions in future generations, potentially putting offspring at risk for such conditions as depression, anxiety, and metabolic disorders.
Questionnaire predicts likelihood of unprotected sex, binge drinking
Researchers in the social sciences have been searching for a holy grail: an accurate way to predict who is likely to engage in problematic behavior, like using drugs.
Study pinpoints behavior type linked to binge drinking in young adults
While there are a number of studies on alcohol misuse, most of the research has been focused on the adult population.
Gene and tonic: Genetic link in binge-drinking teens
Scientists have identified the KALRN gene in a search to determine factors at play in underage alcohol abuse.
Researchers find brain circuit that controls binge drinking
Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have identified a circuit between two brain regions that controls alcohol binge drinking, offering a more complete picture on what drives a behavior that costs the United States more than $170 billion annually and how it can be treated.
Binge drinking dangerous for young adults
Having an occasional drink is fine, but 'binge' drinking is a known health hazard and now high blood pressure may need to be added to the list of possible consequences.
Binge drinking with chronic alcohol use more destructive than previously thought
A new study by MU School of Medicine researchers shows that chronic alcohol use, when combined with repeated binge drinking, causes more damage to the liver than previously thought.

Related Binge Drinking Reading:

Binge Drinking (Pocket Puritans)
by John Flavel (Author)

In this book titled Binge Drinking, John Flavel, a Puritan minister in the naval port of Dartmouth, England, pulls no punches as he confronts the sin of drunkenness head on. Often considered a modern phenomenon, binge drinking is in fact an age-old problem. Flavel's treatment is a highly relevant exposé of the soul-destroying evils of this 'detestable sin'. View Details


The Binge Drinking Solution: Control Alcohol Consumption and Stop Binge Drinking for Life (Alcohol, Alcoholism, Alcoholic) (Volume 1)
by Benjamin Tideas (Author)

The Solution to End Binge Drinking for Life! Limited Time Offer: Go to www.plaid-enterprises.com/freebook to get your FREE bonus book! You're about to discover how to finally gain control over binge drinking, and improve your quality of life in the process. Each and every day, so many good people go out to a party or a night on the town with friends and accidentally overdo it with their alcohol consumption. You or someone close to you has felt the effects of this mistake time and again: the loss of memory, the embarrassing photos, the terrible hangover, and possibly an aftermath of... View Details


Binge Drinking (Straight Talk About)
by James Bow (Author)

Presents information about binge drinking and outlines several of the problems and dangers associated with it. View Details


From Binge to Blackout: A Mother and Son Struggle with Teen Drinking
by Chris Volkmann (Author), Toren Volkmann (Author), Edward A. Malloy (Introduction), Cardwell C. Nuckols (Introduction)

Throughout his college years, Toren Volkmann partied like there was no tomorrow, having what was supposed to be the time of his life. Like so many parents, his mother, Chris, overlooked Toren’s growing alcohol problem. But when he graduated, Toren realized he’d become a full-blown alcoholic. And he was not alone.

Considered a rite of passage, teenage drinking has skyrocketed to epidemic proportions, fostering a generation of young adults whose lives are already beginning to come apart under the strain. This book, written from the viewpoints of both mother and son, is a riveting,... View Details


Beat Binge Drinking: A Smart Drinking Guide for Teens, College Students and Young Adults Who Choose to Drink
by Donna J. Cornett (Author)

Beat Binge Drinking is the first and only comprehensive guide to alcohol use designed for young people who choose to drink - empowering them with smart drinking guidelines and tips to manage and reduce their alcohol consumption. It's the first book to offer youngsters an alcohol education, just like we offer them sex education and drivers education, and it will prevent alcohol abuse and alcoholism before it even starts!

Young people will always experiment with alcohol and it's a huge health, social and economic problem. Even the National Institute on... View Details


Unwasted: My Lush Sobriety
by Sacha Z. Scoblic (Author)

The single glass of wine with dinner. . .the cold beer on a hot day. . .the champagne flute raised in a toast. . . what I'd drink if Hunter S. Thompson wanted to get wasted with me. . .these are my fantasies lately. Too bad I've gone sober.

When Sacha Z. Scoblic was drinking, she was a rock star; the days were rough and the nights filled with laughter and blackouts. Then she gave it up. She had to. Here are her adventures in an utterly and maddeningly sober world. . .and how she discovered that nothing is as odd and fantastic as life without a drink in hand. . .

"Wildly... View Details


BINGE DRINKING: What is it? What are the effects? How to stop.

BINGE DRINKING


WHAT IS IT, WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS, HOW TO STOP.


We all enjoy a drink every now and then but binge drinking can seriously affect your health and life.

In this book you will learn what binge drinking is and how to get control. You will learn how to recognize your triggers, how to cut down or quit alcohol, warning signs of alcohol abuse and how when to get help. There are even tips for managing a hangover.

View Details


Binge Drinking and Alcohol Misuse in Young Adults in the series Advances in Psychotherapy, Evidence Based Practice
by Kenneth J. Sher (Author), Rachel P. Winograd (Author)

This book provides clear guidance about effective, evidence-based approaches to treating alcohol misuse in young adults.

Heavy drinking and its associated problems are an integral part of many college students and other young adults lives. Though some young drinkers are able to consume alcohol without incident, many face significant negative fallout from their excessive consumption. This volume in the series Advances in Psychotherapy: Evidence-Based Practice describes the nature of alcohol misuse, its epidemiology, its causes, and methods for treatment, specifically as they pertain to... View Details


Dying to Drink: Confronting Binge Drinking on College Campuses
by Henry Wechsler (Author), Bernice Wuethrich (Author)

Underage drinking and binge drinking are not harmless rites of passage. Rather than serving as some kind of bridge to adulthood, these illicit activities exact a senseless and severe price in blood and brain cells each semester. The proof is in the firsthand student accounts of out-of-control house parties and bar blasts, the testimonies of concerned health care professionals, and the tragic news stories related in this landmark book.

The good news is that the damage, injuries, and deaths attributed to binge drinking are avoidable. The solutions offered in Dying to Drink will... View Details

Best Science Podcasts 2017

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2017. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Simple Solutions
Sometimes, the best solutions to complex problems are simple. But simple doesn't always mean easy. This hour, TED speakers describe the innovation and hard work that goes into achieving simplicity. Guests include designer Mileha Soneji, chef Sam Kass, sleep researcher Wendy Troxel, public health advocate Myriam Sidibe, and engineer Amos Winter.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#448 Pavlov (Rebroadcast)
This week, we're learning about the life and work of a groundbreaking physiologist whose work on learning and instinct is familiar worldwide, and almost universally misunderstood. We'll spend the hour with Daniel Todes, Ph.D, Professor of History of Medicine at The Johns Hopkins University, discussing his book "Ivan Pavlov: A Russian Life in Science."