Alcohol can trigger alterations in the structure and function of the blossoming brain, which continues to mature into a person's mid 20s, and it may have consequences reaching far beyond adolescence.
In adolescence, brain development is defined by dramatic changes to the brain's structure, neural connections ("circuitry"), and physiology. These transformations in the brain affect everything from developing sexuality to emotions and judgment.
Not all parts of the juvenile brain mature at the same time, which may put an adolescent at a disadvantage in specific scenarios. The limbic regions of the brain develop earlier than the frontal lobes.
Ways Alcohol Affects the Brain
Alcohol affects an adolescent's brain growth in numerous ways. The consequences of adolescent alcohol consumption on specific brain functions are discussed below.
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Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. Alcohol can appear to be a stimulant because, at the start, it suppresses the portion of the human brain that manages inhibitions.
CEREBRAL CORTEX-- Alcohol hampers the cortex as it works with details from an individual's senses.
CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM-- When an individual thinks about something he wants his body to undertake, the central nervous system-- the brain and the spine-- sends out a signal to that part of the body. Alcohol impedes the central nervous system, making the person think, converse, and move more slowly.
FRONTAL LOBES -- The human brain's frontal lobes are essential for advanced planning, creating concepts, decision making, and employing self-discipline.
A person might find it hard to manage his or her emotions and urges once alcohol impairs the frontal lobes of the brain. The person might 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 part of the human brain where memories are made.
Once alcohol gets to the hippocampus, an individual may have trouble recollecting something she or he just learned, such as a person's name or a telephone number. This can take place after just one or two drinks.
Drinking a great deal of alcohol quickly can trigger a blackout-- not having the ability to remember entire events, such as what he or she did last night.
If alcohol harms the hippocampus, a person might find it difficult to learn and to hold on to knowledge.
CEREBELLUM-- The cerebellum is very important for coordination, to form thoughts, and focus. A person might have trouble with these skills when alcohol enters the cerebellum. After consuming alcohol, a person's hands may be so unsteady that they cannot touch or grab things properly, and they may lose their balance and fall.
HYPOTHALAMUS-- The hypothalamus is a little part of the brain that does a remarkable variety of the body's housekeeping tasks. Alcohol upsets the operation of the hypothalamus. After a person drinks alcohol, blood pressure, appetite, being thirsty, and the impulse to urinate intensify while body temperature and heart rate decline.
MEDULLA-- The medulla manages the body's unconscious actions, such as a person's heartbeat. It also keeps the physical body at the best temperature. Alcohol really cools down the physical body. Consuming a lot of alcohol outdoors in chilly climates can cause an individual's body temperature to fall below normal. This hazardous condition is called hypothermia.
A person may have trouble with these abilities when alcohol gets in the cerebellum. After drinking alcohol, a person's hands may be so unsteady that they cannot touch or grab things normally, and they might lose their equilibrium and tumble.
After an individual drinks alcohol, blood pressure, appetite, thirst, and the urge to urinate increase while body temperature and heart rate decline.
Alcohol actually cools down the body. Consuming a lot of alcohol outdoors in cold weather can trigger a person's body temperature to drop below normal.