Even Moderate Drinking Can Be Harmful for the Brain

Even Moderate Drinking Can Be Harmful for the Brain

Moderate to binge drinking can damage your memory abilities

The drinker might not experience any functioning problems in the short term, says graduate student Megan Anderson, of Rutgers University, but in the long term the story may be different. New research published in Neuroscience shows that moderate to binge drinking reduces the number of nerve cells in the hippocampus by about 40%. This means that the brain is less capable of creating new brain cells, thus finding it more difficult to learn new things.

Failure to create new brain cells

The researchers, from Rutgers University, in the US, and the University of Jyvaskyla, in Finland, tested the effects of alcohol consumption in rats. They found that, with a level of intoxication of only 0.8%, the hippocampus’ ability to create new cells was already affected. On the other hand, their motor and associative learning skills remained the same; at least in the short term.

“If this area of your brain was affected every day over many months and years, eventually you might not be able to learn how to get somewhere new or to learn something new about your life,” says Anderson. “It’s something that you might not even be aware is occurring.”

Source: ScienceDaily
Photo: Francesca/Flickr
Anderson, M., Nokia, M., Govindaraju, K., & Shors, T. (2012). Moderate drinking? Alcohol consumption significantly decreases neurogenesis in the adult hippocampus Neuroscience, 224, 202-209 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2012.08.018

Jaime Menchén

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