Binge drinking damages the memory of teenage girls, reveals study
According to Californian researchers, teenage girls who binge drink could be inflicting damage on a part of their brain which plays a role in memory and spatial awareness.
The study, which has been published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, involved carrying out tests on 95 teenagers aged 16 to 19.
Researchers first carried out tests on 27 binge drinking males and 13 binge drinking females, giving them a series of neurophyschological and spatial tests.
The very same tests were also completed by 31 males and 24 females who did not binge drink, before the results from all groups were compared.
MRI scans of all groups revealed that the female group of heavy drinkers showed less brain activity in multiple regions when compared to the non drinking teenagers who completed the same tasks.
Researchers said that the reduced activity in these areas could lead to problems when playing sports, driving or map reading among other tasks. Furthermore, study leader Susan Tapert added that these differences could have a negative effect on other functions such as concentration and ‘working memory’.
Though the male binge drinkers involved in the study did show some abnormalities when compared to male non drinkers, men did not seem to be affected to the same extent as the women studied, suggesting that females are particularly vulnerable to the negative side effects of binge drinking.
Psychiatry and behavioural sciences professor at Stanford University, Edith Sullivan, said that the gender differences could be related to the fact that female brains develop between one and two years earlier than males, so alcohol use during different developmental stages could result in differences later on in life.
Chief executive of Alcohol Concern, Don Shenker, has said the research demonstrates why reducing binge drinking among teenagers must become a more urgent priority.
If you believe you have a problem with heavy drinking, please contact your GP for help and advice. To find out how counselling may be able to help with alcohol dependence, please visit our fact-sheet for further information.
View the original BBC News article.