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A sobering study suggests that binge drinking may lead to permanent brain damage

Although they will be the last to admit it, college-aged youth possess still-developing brains. That's why a University of Cincinnati study showing that excessive drinking, a common practice among 18- to 25-year-olds, can actually lead to permanent brain damage is particularly disturbing.

The findings, which will be presented to the Research Society on Alcoholism this week, reveal a link between binge drinking (which this release defines as four or more drinks in one incident for female, five for males) and cortical thinning, or shrinkage, of the pre-frontal cortex. The pre-frontal cortex is the part of the brain associated with decision-making and impulse control. In other words, the blunted brain functioning that made you let your best friend draw obscene pictures all over your forehead last night may continue long after the alcohol has left your system.

There is one flicker of hope for kids who quit drinking after their rebellious college years: senior author Krista Lisdahl Medina, PhD, comments hopefully that "Our preliminary evidence has found a correlation between increased abstinence of binge drinking and recovery of gray matter volume in the cerebellum." Regardless, the research is a total buzzkill.

Photo by KyleJSullivan

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