Alcohol consumption can trigger alterations in the structure and function of the growing brain, which continues to develop into a person's mid 20s, and it might have repercussions reaching far beyond adolescence.
In adolescence, brain development is defined by dramatic changes to the brain's structure, neuron connectivity ("circuitry"), and physiology. These changes in the brain affect everything from developing sexuality to emotionality and cognitive ability.
Not all portions of the adolescent brain mature simultaneously, which might put a juvenile at a disadvantage in specific scenarios. For example, the limbic areas of the brain develop quicker than the frontal lobes. The limbic areas control feelings and are associated with a juvenile's reduced sensitivity to risk. The frontal lobes are accountable for self-regulation, judgment, reasoning, analytic skills, and impulse control. Variations in maturation amongst parts of the brain can result in careless choices or acts and a neglect for repercussions.
How Alcohol Disturbs the Human Brain Alcohol affects a juvenile's brain development in numerous ways. The results of minor alcohol consumption on particular brain functions are discussed below. Alcohol is a central nervous system sedative drug. Alcohol can seem to be a stimulant because, to begin with, it depresses the part of the brain that governs inhibitions.
CEREBRAL CORTEX-- Alcohol hinders the cerebral cortex as it processes details from a person's senses.
CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM-- When a person thinks of something he desires his body to undertake, the central nervous system-- the brain and the spinal cord-- sends out a signal to that portion of the physical body. Alcohol reduces the central nervous system, making the individual think, communicate, and move more slowly.
FRONTAL LOBES -- The brain's frontal lobes are essential for advanced planning, creating ideas, decision making, and exercising self-control.
A person might find it difficult to manage his or her emotions and urges when alcohol affects the frontal lobes of the brain. The individual may act without thinking or might even get violent. Drinking alcohol over a long period of time can injure the frontal lobes permanently.
HIPPOCAMPUS-- The hippocampus is the part of the brain in which memories are generated. Once alcohol reaches the hippocampus, an individual may have trouble recollecting something he or she just learned, such as a name or a telephone number. This can take place after just a couple of drinks. Drinking a lot of alcohol rapidly can cause a blackout-- not being able to remember whole incidents, like what exactly she or he did the night before. A person might find it tough to learn and to hold on to information if alcohol harms the hippocampus.
CEREBELLUM-- The cerebellum is important for coordination, to form thoughts, and focus. A person might have difficulty with these abilities when alcohol enters the cerebellum. After drinking alcohol, an individual's hands may be so unsteady that they can't touch or get hold of things properly, and they may fail to keep their balance and tumble.
HYPOTHALAMUS-- The hypothalamus is a small part of the brain that does an incredible variety of the body's housekeeping tasks. Alcohol upsets the operation of the hypothalamus. After a person consumes alcohol, blood pressure, appetite, being thirsty, and the impulse to urinate increase while physical body temperature and heart rate decline.
Alcohol actually cools down the body. Drinking a lot of alcohol outdoors in cold weather can cause a person's physical body temperature level to drop below normal.
An individual might have trouble with these abilities when alcohol gets in the cerebellum. After consuming alcohol, an individual's hands might be so shaky that they can't touch or take hold of things normally, and they may fail to keep their equilibrium and fall.
After an individual alcoholic beverages alcohol, blood pressure, appetite, being thirsty, and the desire to urinate increase while body temperature and heart rate decrease.
Alcohol in fact chills the body. Consuming a lot of alcohol outdoors in cold weather can trigger a person's body temperature to fall below normal.