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Binge Drinking's Effects on the Developing Brain-Animal Models.

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    • Abstract:
      Adolescence typically is a time of experimentation, including alcohol use and, particularly, binge drinking. Because the brain is still developing during adolescence, such exposure could have long-lasting effects. Animal models and adolescent intermittent ethanol exposure (AIE) paradigms have been used to help elucidate the consequences of adolescent binge drinking. These studies have identified cognitive deficits, particularly in challenging cognitive tasks, and behavioral alterations such as greater risk preferences, impulsivity, and disinhibition. AIE also is associated with changes in affect when the animals reach adulthood, including increased social anxiety and, sometimes, general anxiety. Animal models have demonstrated that AIE can result in retention of certain alcohol-related adolescent phenotypes (i.e., reduced sensitivity to alcohol's aversive effects and increased sensitivity to alcohol's rewarding effects) into adulthood, which may motivate continued elevated alcohol use. The detrimental effects of adolescent alcohol exposure extend to a diversity of lasting alterations in the brain, including reduced neurogenesis, increased proinflammatory responses, changes in gene expression through epigenetic mechanisms, and alterations in the activities of various neurotransmitter systems. Further exploration of these mechanisms in animal models and humans may lead to improved prevention and intervention efforts. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
    • Abstract:
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