Heavy alcohol use in adolescence alters brain electrical activity

© Axel Bueckert | Dreamstime.com - Alcohol drinking problem
© Axel Bueckert | Dreamstime.com 

London, Jan 21 .

Heavy use of alcohol for a long time by adolescents can alter cortical excitability and functional connectivity in the brain, a study has found.

Researchers from the University of Eastern Finland and Kuopio University Hospital observed these alterations in physically and mentally healthy but heavy drinking adults.

“The cortical response to the transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) pulse was stronger among alcohol users. They demonstrated greater overall electrical activity in the cortex as well as greater activity associated with the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) neuro-transmission system,” the study noted.

It analysed the effects of heavy adolescent drinking on the electrical activity and excitability of the cortex.

Researchers noted that alcohol use caused significant alterations in both electrical and chemical neuro-transmission among the study participants, although none of them fulfilled the diagnostic criteria of a substance abuse disorder.

“For young people whose brain is still developing, heavy alcohol use is especially detrimental,” the study published in Addiction Biology added.

The use of alcohol may be more detrimental to a developing brain than previously thought, although it takes time for alcohol-related adverse effects to manifest in a person’s life.