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BOB HIRSHON (host):
Early drinking can have lifelong effects. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.
Even brief episodes of heavy drinking during adolescence can cause life-long changes to the brain, according to Duke University neurobiologist Louise Risher and her colleagues, writing in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. Working with lab rats, the scientists found that adult rats had physical changes to the hippocampus – a brain structure involved in learning and memory—if they had been exposed to high alcohol levels for just two weeks when they were young.
LOUISE RISHER (Duke University):
If you can’t fundamentally remember things, or learn things on a basic level, then it affects all higher cognitive function.
What’s more, she says that when it comes to the human brain, adolescence goes well beyond the teen years. The brain is incomplete and sensitive to the effects of alcohol until the mid-twenties. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.