Binge Drinking Affects White Matter in Teenage Brains
It is well known that abnormalities occur in the white matter of adult alcoholics, those that have drank heavily for sustained periods of time; however, little is known about whether or not changes in white matter occur only over an extended period of time. A study recently published online in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research has revealed that teens who participate in binge drinking may be compromising the integrity of white matter in their brains, suggesting that white matter abnormalities can occur over a relatively short period of time. The cross-sectional study of 28 teens found that participants who reported binge drinking had lower measures of fiber coherence in white matter structure than those that did not binge drink. Abnormalities in white matter slow brain function; white matter is essential for the relaying of information and abnormalities in this area of the brain inhibit one’s ability to process multiple sources of information at the same time. The study’s authors commenting on the findings stated, “there has been concern that it [white matter] may be more vulnerable to the effects of neurotoxins such as high doses of alcohol…these relationships suggest that high-dose alcohol consumption may index adverse influences on white matter caliber.” Click here to read an article from Modern Medicine that links to the study’s abstract and discusses the findings more.