Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Alcohol use in adolescence connected to risky behavior in adulthood

Date:
April 27, 2014
Source:
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB)
Summary:
Teen drinking alters brain chemistry, suggesting early alcohol use has long-term effects on decision making, an animal study demonstrates. The findings could shed light on the development of alcohol and drug addiction. “In humans, the younger you are when you first experience alcohol, the more likely you are to experience problems with alcohol in adulthood," researchers say. The study bolsters the evidence that alcohol exposure early in life can have long-term effects on risk taking and decision making, which can increase a person’s risk for substance abuse problems.

A new study conducted in rats offers clues about how teen drinking alters brain chemistry, suggesting early alcohol use has long-term effects on decision making.

Related Articles


"Early life experiences can alter the brain in the long term, with profound implications for behavior in adulthood," said Abigail Schindler, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Washington who conducted the research. "This study points to the potential effects of alcohol on brain development in adolescence, a period of exploration when young adults are often experiencing alcohol for the first time."

The researchers gave alcohol-laced "Jell-O shots" to a group of rats 30-50 days of age, the equivalent of the teen years in humans. During this period, the rats were given access to the Jell-O shots 24 hours per day. Once the rats reached adulthood, they were given tests offering the opportunity to take a low risk to get a small treat or take a much higher risk to get a larger treat.

The rats exposed to alcohol during adolescence were consistently more inclined to take the high risk/high reward option, even when the safer option would have given them more treats overall. "This increase in maladaptive risk taking suggests that the alcohol exposure changed the way the animals make decisions," said Schindler.

To explain the phenomenon, the research team dug deeper into the rats' brain chemistry. They traced the effect to changes in dopamine, a brain chemical that contributes to the experience of reward, and to possible changes in GABA receptors, which can act as a brake system to keep dopamine in check.

Rats exposed to alcohol showed greater dopamine surges and changes in certain types of GABA receptors, suggesting that early alcohol exposure may take the breaks off of the dopamine system.

The findings could shed light on the development of alcohol and drug addiction. "In humans, the younger you are when you first experience alcohol, the more likely you are to experience problems with alcohol in adulthood. But it's sort of a chicken-and-egg problem, because it's been unclear whether some people have a natural tendency toward alcohol abuse, or if alcohol itself has an effect on the brain," said Schindler.

The study bolsters the evidence that alcohol exposure early in life can have long-term effects on risk taking and decision making, which can increase a person's risk for substance abuse problems.

Alcohol abuse represents a major social, economic and public health problem. About 18 million people in the United States have an alcohol use disorder.

Alcohol is the most commonly abused drug among adolescents. Seventy percent of 12th-graders and one-third of 8th-graders in the United States have had some exposure to alcohol during their lifetimes, according to a 2011 Monitoring the Future survey.

Abigail Schindler presented the findings during the Experimental Biology 2014 meeting on Sunday, April 27, 2014.

The study was funded by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). "Alcohol use in adolescence connected to risky behavior in adulthood." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140427185151.htm>.
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). (2014, April 27). Alcohol use in adolescence connected to risky behavior in adulthood. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140427185151.htm
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). "Alcohol use in adolescence connected to risky behavior in adulthood." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140427185151.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) A double-amputee makes history by becoming the first person to wear and operate two prosthetic arms using only his mind. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) Harvard researchers found children whose mothers were exposed to high pollution levels in the third trimester were twice as likely to develop autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Yoga can help your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and heart just as much as biking and walking does, a new study suggests. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins