By Staff Writer
A team of researchers’ have discovered a molecular mechanism in teens that makes them less sensitive to the motor-impairing effects of alcohol than adults. This may put them at a greater risk for abusing alcohol, which could lead to an addiction that requires treatment from a rehab facility.
The team found that in adults, alcohol suppresses the firing of a particular set of neurons in the brain that are responsible for motor function. However, these neurons continue to fire in younger individuals when they drink.
In fact, adult test subjects displayed a 20 percent reduction in activity among these neurons after drinking, while adolescents who drank actually showed a 5 percent increase in this activity. Despite this modest increase, teens still showed signs of slight impairment of motor skills.
Researchers said that these findings could have major consequences for teens who engage in binge drinking. The ability to continue consuming alcohol without any noticeable impairment of motor function greatly increases the risk of drinking to excess. This can have a damaging effect on brain development and other areas of health.