Alcohol can cause alterations in the structure and operation of the developing brain, which continues to mature into a person's mid 20s, and it might have consequences reaching far beyond teenage years.
In adolescence, brain growth is identified by dramatic modifications to the brain's architecture, neuron connectivity ("circuitry"), and physiology. These changes in the brain alter everything from emerging sexuality to emotions and judgment.
Not all parts of the juvenile brain mature at the same time, which might put a juvenile at a disadvantage in particular circumstances. The limbic areas of the brain develop earlier than the frontal lobes.
The way Alcohol Affects the Human Brain
Alcohol disturbs an adolescent's brain development in many ways. The consequences of juvenile drinking on particular brain functions are summarized below.
Alcohol is a central nervous system sedative drug. Alcohol can appear to be a stimulant because, at the start, it depresses the part of the human brain that controls inhibitions.
CORTEX-- Alcohol slows down the cerebral cortex as it processes information from an individual's senses.
CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM-- When an individual thinks of 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, converse, and move less quickly.
FRONTAL LOBES -- The brain's frontal lobes are essential for advanced planning, forming concepts, making decisions, and employing self-control.
When alcohol affects the frontal lobes of the brain, an individual might find it difficult to manage his or her emotions and urges. The individual might act without thinking or might even become violent. Drinking alcohol over a long period of time can damage the frontal lobes permanently.
HIPPOCAMPUS-- The hippocampus is the portion of the human brain where memories are created.
Once alcohol reaches the hippocampus, an individual may have difficulty recollecting a thing he or she just learned, like a name or a telephone number. This can occur after just one or two alcoholic beverages.
Drinking a great deal of alcohol rapidly can cause a blackout-- not being able to recollect entire happenings, such as what she or he did last night.
If alcohol injures the hippocampus, an individual might find it tough to learn and to hang on to information.
CEREBELLUM-- The cerebellum is necessary for coordination, thoughts, and attention. An individual might have difficulty with these skills when alcohol gets in the cerebellum. After drinking alcohol, an individual's hands might be so tremulous that they cannot touch or grab things normally, and they might lose their equilibrium and tumble.
HYPOTHALAMUS-- The hypothalamus is a little part of the brain that does an amazing variety of the body's housekeeping tasks. Alcohol frustrates the work of the hypothalamus. After an individual consumes alcohol, blood pressure, appetite, being thirsty, and the need to urinate increase while physical body temperature and heart rate decrease.
Alcohol in fact cools down the physical body. Drinking a lot of alcohol outdoors in cold weather conditions can cause an individual's physical body temperature to fall below normal.
A person may have difficulty with these abilities once alcohol enters the cerebellum. After consuming alcohol, a person's hands might be so shaky that they cannot touch or take hold of things properly, and they might lose their balance and tumble.
After a person drinks alcohol, blood pressure, hunger, thirst, and the desire to urinate increase while physical body temperature and heart rate decline.
Alcohol actually cools down the physical body. Drinking a lot of alcohol outdoors in cold weather conditions can cause a person's body temperature level to fall below normal.
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