Brain Imaging May Help Identify Teens at Risk of Increasing Alcohol Use

Posted on July 5, 2019

Adolescents are at the stage of life where they are most susceptible to developing addictions, as they experience a critical period where their brains tend to undergo greater development. During this period, they are more likely to obtain new habits.

Existing studies have found that individual differences in brain composition might help explain why some adolescents tend to develop addictions more easily. A recent study used magnetic resonance imaging to examine the brain structure of adolescents so as to look out for any differences that may be associated with increased risk of alcohol abuse.

14-year-old youths were recruited for research and underwent brain imaging. They were subsequently asked to report their drinking habits over the next five years. The results indicated that participants with more grey matter in brain regions associated with learning, thinking and movement when they were 14 were more likely to engage in heavy drinking.

Differences in brain composition is also related to possible psychiatric issues when adolescents are older. While the reason behind this link has not been established, changes in drinking habits might have something to do with the removal of less relevant brain connections in adolescents.

The data can possibly help us identify youths who are at greater risk of developing alcoholism and intervene during the early stages. Follow-up studies in the future will also enable us to understand how brain differences may have an impact on the drinking habits of teenagers.

Category(s):Addictions, Child and/or Adolescent Issues

Source material from Science Daily

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