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Handb Clin Neurol. 2014;125:501-10. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-444-62619-6.00028-8.

The effect of alcohol use on human adolescent brain structures and systems.

Author information

1
Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, CA, USA.
2
Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, CA, USA; Psychology Service, VA San Diego Healthcare System, San Diego, CA, USA.
3
Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, CA, USA; Psychology Service, VA San Diego Healthcare System, San Diego, CA, USA. Electronic address: stapert@ucsd.edu.

Abstract

This article reviews the neurocognitive and neuroimaging literature regarding the effect of alcohol use on human adolescent brain structure and function. Adolescents who engage in heavy alcohol use, even at subdiagnostic levels, show differences in brain structure, function, and behavior when compared with non-drinking controls. Preliminary longitudinal studies have helped disentangle premorbid factors from consequences associated with drinking. Neural abnormalities and cognitive disadvantages both appear to predate drinking, particularly in youth who have a family history of alcoholism, and are directly related to the neurotoxic effect of alcohol use. Binge drinking and withdrawal and hangover symptoms have been associated with the greatest neural abnormalities during adolescence, particularly in frontal, parietal, and temporal regions.

KEYWORDS:

adolescence; alcohol; development; imaging; neurocognition

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