Adolescents most vulnerable to alcohol have abnormalities in the brain




In addition, a study signed by the Complutense University of Madrid has revealed that adolescents most vulnerable to initiating alcohol consumption have abnormalities in the organization of functional networks in the brain.

This is the first study to show abnormalities, prior to alcohol consumption, in the functional electrophysiological networks and higher profiles of dysexecutive behavior and impulsivity in adolescents who, two years later, became heavy drinkers.

The research, published in the journal “Drug and Alcohol Dependence”, has been carried out in the Laboratory of Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience of the Complutense and UPM, in collaboration with the Department of Psychobiology of the Faculty of Education of the UCM.

The UCM researchers carried out a two-year study with the collaboration of 67 14-year-olds, no history of previous alcohol consumption. A measurement of brain activity was performed during an inhibition control task using magnetoencephalography, as well as an evaluation of psychological traits of impulsivity and dysexecutive behavior.

The main findings showed that those adolescents who consumed more intensively presented anomalies in functional connectivity profiles prior to the start of consumption. These anomalies were located mainly in the functional networks responsible for behavioral inhibitory control, being related to higher levels of impulsivity.

The risk of cannabis

“We are not explaining to young people that cannabis use has a significant risk. It is a matter of brain development. This is how blunt Rafael Maldonado, Professor of Pharmacology at Pompeu Fabra University, was during the National Conference organized this week by the Spanish Scientific Society for Studies on Alcohol, Alcoholism and other Drug Addiction (Socidrogalcohol. In fact, several experts warned that Smoking marijuana during adolescence can alter the synaptic connections that occur in the brain, and can even lead to the appearance of mental disorders such as psychosis.

Experts have also pointed out that, in terms of performance, cannabis can lead to “poor” learning, with effects on cognition and memory, at the same time that it can produce effects on the inhibitory structure of the brain, the one in charge of control rational impulse. Therefore, when a person smokes marijuana, the risk of a car accident is tripled, since they drive slower, reaction time is decreased and attention is divided and altered.

To end this scourge, the deputy director of Drug Addiction of the Generalitat, Joan Colom, believes that initiatives should be promoted to help prevent the early onset of cannabis use, choose low-potency tetrahydrocannabinol or cannabis products with a balanced THC ratio to cannabidiol, refrain from using synthetic cannabinoids, avoid inhalation of burnt cannabis and give preference to methods of use other than smoking, in addition to refraining from driving or performing risky activities under its influence.

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