Another study has linked adolescent drinking to long-term effects that endure into adulthood, proving just how crucial a period of time adolescence is for development. Researchers at Duke Medicine have published their study in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, taking a look at drinking during adolescent years and the effects on brain growth and abnormalities. Because the brain continues to mature until we reach our mid-20s, these years are still pivotal to social, emotional, and cognitive maturation.

“Something happens during adolescent alcohol exposure that changes the way the hippocampus and other regions of the brain function and how the cells actually look – both the LTP and the dendritic spines have an immature appearance in adulthood,” reports Prof. Swartzwelder.

According to Risher, the immature quality of these brain cells could be associated with behavioral immaturity. “It’s quite possible that alcohol disrupts the maturation process, which can affect these cognitive function later on,” she adds. “That’s something we are eager to explore in ongoing studies.”

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