Adolescent Brain Development

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ABSTRACT: This research paper summarizes the effect of alcohol on adolescent brain development. Researchers have discovered striking changes that take place in the teen years. These findings have altered the long held assumptions about the timing of brain maturation. For instance, they discovered that the brain doesn’t look like an adult’s brain until the early 20s. However, those brain changes don’t occur properly due to alcohol abuse in adolescents. Adults drink more frequently than teenagers, but when teens consume alcohol, they tend to consume larger quantities. There is evidence which suggests that the adolescent brain responds to alcohol differently than an adult’s brain. Connections between different parts of the brain increases throughout …show more content…
Synaptic refinement is referred to as “synaptic pruning” to describe the reduction of synapses. It can be detected as a decrease in cortical gray matter volumes and an increase in myelin, which can be detected as an increase in white-matter volumes .Together, these changes enhance the efficiency and speed of transmission of neural signals. Also, this increases the capacity for more complex higher-order reasoning and processing. This period of the brain development is very vulnerable to neurotoxic, which can be caused due to heavy alcohol exposure.
Both drinkers and non-drinkers experience a decrease in the gray matter in the neocortical region. However, adolescents who had experienced episodes of heavy drinking have faster declining volumes in the neocortical gray matter regions and smaller increases in white matter volumes relative to non-drinking youth. In the article, Brain Development in Heavy Drinking Adolescents, presents longitudinal analysis which demonstrates detection of increased white matter structures in adolescents who drink heavily. The changes of the brain were detected when researchers studied brain scans of children as they grew from early childhood through age 20.The scans revealed unexpectedly changes in the volume of gray matter, which forms the cortex of the brain. The cortex is where the processes of thought and memory are based.
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Research has indicated that adolescent drinkers show abnormalities in brain functioning. Which is inked to changes in neurocognition over time. This is an important area of research because young adults drink large quantities of alcohol. Moreover, adolescents, especially college students between the ages of 18 and 20, is an important period in life during which key decisions in educational, occupational, and social realms are made. Therefore, valid information on the causes and consequences of alcohol use during this developmental period is needed in order to prevent alcohol-related neurocognitive impairments. In this paper, I discussed how alcohol alters brain thickness in the cortex, changes in the gray and white matter, and decreases in the volume of the hippocampus. These research findings are very evident to conclude that alcohol can be very detrimental to brain development in adolescents and in order for adolescent bran to mature properly they should avoid

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