Specifying alcohol-related brain damage in young women
- Women seem to have a heightened sensitivity to alcohol's toxic neurological effects.
- Thinking and memory abilities may be markedly affected.
- Researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to 'visualize' brain activity in young women.
- Young, female alcoholics have significant aberrations in brain and cognitive function.
Researchers know that years of alcohol abuse can damage someone's brain. Although both genders seem to be affected by alcohol's toxic neurological effects, women often have shorter histories of heavy drinking before experiencing the same effects. This suggests that women may have a more heightened sensitivity to the effects of alcohol. A study in the February issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research
uses a variant of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to closely examine brain function in young alcoholic women.
"Previous studies have shown that alcoholic women perform just as poorly as alcoholic men on thinking and memory tests," said Susan F. Tapert, first author of the study, "even though the women hadn't been drinking as long as the men had." Furthermore, added Tapert, also an assistant adjunct professor at the VA San Diego Healthcare System and the University of California at San Diego, recent research using MRI has found that alcoholic teens may have shrinkage of a brain part - called the hippocampus - that is critical for memory.
"We have ourselves done several studies comparing thinking and memory abilities in teens with and without drinking problems," Tapert continued, "and found that remembering information, solving spatial problems like working with maps or puzzles, and doing mental arithmetic were less accurate in heavy-drinking youth. With our brain imaging study, we wanted to understand what parts of the brain might explain these thinking and memory problems. We wanted to exaPage: 1 2 3 4 Related medicine news :1
Contact: Susan F. Tapert, Ph.D.
Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research
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