Published 15 September 2017 By Tim Newman
Researchers uncover changes in brain activity associated with binge drinking. Earlier studies showed that alcoholic people have measurable changes in their resting brain activity. And now, for the first time, researchers find similar changes in the brains of non-alcoholic students who binge drink.
Non-bingers' and bingers' brains compared
When the neural activity of the two groups was compared, there were significant differences. More specifically, there was a measurable increase in beta and theta oscillations in the right temporal lobe - particularly the parahippocampal and fusiform gyri - and the occipital cortex.
The parahippocampal gyrus is believed to play a part in coding and retrieving memories. The fusiform gyrus does not have a well-defined role to date but seems to be involved in recognition. The occipital cortex deals with processing visual information.
Interestingly, the increased activity in these areas mirrors those found in the brains of chronic alcoholics.
The researchers believe that the alterations in brain activity might be early signs of alcohol-induced brain damage. Changes in these regions may indicate a reduction in their ability to respond to external stimuli, which may hamper information processing.
Younger brains are still developing, and the researchers believe that this might make them more vulnerable to alcohol damage.
"These features might be down to the particularly harmful effects of alcohol on young brains that are still in development, perhaps by delaying neuromaturational processes." Eduardo López-Caneda