Alcohol Research: Effects of Binge Drinking on the Developing Brain

Scott A. Jones, Jordan M. Lueras, and Bonnie J. Nagel

Scott A. Jones and Jordan M. Lueras are graduate students in the Department of Behavioral Neuroscience, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon.

Bonnie J. Nagel, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Departments of Behavioral Neuroscience and Psychiatry, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon.

Binge drinking is a pattern of alcohol drinking that raises a person’s blood alcohol concentration to at least .08%, which amounts to consuming five alcoholic drinks for men and four alcoholic drinks for women in about 2 hours. It is the most common form of alcohol misuse in adolescents and young adults. Heavy drinking includes the same criterion as binge drinking, but with higher frequency (i.e., 5 or more days in the past 30 days).

Although binge drinking or heavy drinking alone is insufficient to meet the criteria for an alcohol use disorder (AUD) diagnosis, there are neurobiological changes, as well as an increased risk of developing an AUD later in life, associated with this form of alcohol misuse.

This review describes the recent neuroimaging findings in binge drinking and heavy-drinking adolescents and young adults, a developmental period during which significant neuromaturation occurs.

Click here for full review.

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