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Alcohol Consumption Can Cause Alterations In The Structure And Function Of The Growing Brain

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

In adolescence, brain growth is characterized by dramatic changes to the brain's architecture, neural connections ("circuitry"), and physiology. These changes in the brain disturb everything from developing sexuality to emotionality and judgment.

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Not all parts of the adolescent brain mature at the exact same time, which might put an adolescent at a disadvantage in specific scenarios. The limbic regions of the brain develop earlier than the frontal lobes.

How Alcohol Affects the Brain Alcohol alters an adolescent's brain growth in several ways. The effects of underage alcohol consumption on particular brain functions are summarized below. Alcohol is a central nervous system sedative. Alcohol can seem to be a stimulant because, to begin with, it depresses the part of the human brain that governs inhibitions.

CEREBRAL CORTEX-- Alcohol hampers the cerebral cortex as it processes information from an individual's senses.

CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM-- When a person thinks of something he wants his body to do, the central nervous system-- the brain and the spinal cord-- sends a signal to that portion of the body. Alcohol impedes the central nervous system, making the individual think, communicate, and move less quickly.

FRONTAL LOBES -- The brain's frontal lobes are essential for organizing, creating concepts, making decisions, and employing self-control.

Once alcohol impairs the frontal lobes of the human brain, an individual may find it difficult to control his/her emotions and impulses. The individual might act without thinking or may even get violent. Drinking alcohol over an extended period of time can harm the frontal lobes permanently.

HIPPOCAMPUS-- The hippocampus is the portion of the brain where memories are generated. When alcohol reaches the hippocampus, an individual may have difficulty remembering something he or she just learned, such as a name or a telephone number. This can happen after just one or two drinks. Drinking a great deal of alcohol rapidly can trigger a blackout-- not being able to remember entire occurrences, like what exactly she or he did the night before. If alcohol harms the hippocampus, an individual might find it tough to learn and to hold on to information.

CEREBELLUM-- The cerebellum is very important for coordination, thoughts, and attention. When alcohol enters the cerebellum, a person may have trouble with these abilities. After drinking alcohol, a person's hands may be so unsteady that they can't touch or get hold of things normally, and they may lose their balance and fall.

HYPOTHALAMUS-- The hypothalamus is a small part of the brain that does an incredible variety of the physical body's housekeeping chores. Alcohol upsets the operation of the hypothalamus. After an individual drinks alcohol, blood pressure, hunger, thirst, and the impulse to urinate intensify while physical body temperature and heart rate decrease.

Alcohol in fact chills the physical body. Drinking a lot of alcohol outdoors in cold weather can trigger an individual's body temperature level to drop below normal.

A person might have difficulty with these abilities when alcohol goes into the cerebellum. After drinking alcohol, a person's hands might be so unsteady that they can't touch or get hold of things properly, and they might fail to keep their balance and tumble.

After an individual drinks alcohol, blood pressure, appetite, being thirsty, and the urge to urinate increase while body temperature levels and heart rate decrease.

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

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