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Conversely, adolescent animals appear to be less sensitive than adults to alcohol-related motor impairment, alcohol-induced sedation, and the development of seizures during withdrawal.
Alcohol exposure during adolescence can have long-lasting effects and may interfere with normal brain functioning during adulthood. Adolescence and young adulthood are developmental stages of transition during which humans, as well as members of many other species, mature physically and behaviorally into their adult state.
Adolescents and young adults need to acquire the physical and behavioral skills that will allow them to live independently of their parents, sustain themselves, and reproduce. This period is marked by more frequent and sophisticated social interactions with peers, exploration of new situations and behaviors, and an increased willingness to Adaptability of the adolescent brain essay risks.
In humans, this often involves the initiation of alcohol and other drug use. Connections among nerve cells neurons in the brain can change based on which neurons or groups of neurons are regularly stimulated, a characteristic known as plasticity.
This natural process serves to eliminate unnecessary or unused nerve cell connections,1 allowing the survival of only those neurons that make meaningful contacts with other neurons. Adolescence is such a critical phase in brain development that the actions of alcohol and other drugs on the brain can be assumed to have a particularly profound impact during this developmental period.
Indeed, research has shown that compared with the adult brain, the adolescent brain is particularly sensitive to some effects of alcohol, yet more resistant to other effects. The accompanying article by Tapert and colleagues summarizes information that has been obtained in studies of human adolescents and young adults.
In rats it typically spans postnatal days 30—50 i. In both humans and animal models, adolescence is a period when the brain undergoes extensive remodeling. New connections among neurons are being formed; at the same time, a substantial number of existing connections are lost see Spear One brain region where particularly extensive remodeling occurs is the frontal region of the outer layer of the brain—the prefrontal cortex—which is thought to be involved in working memory, voluntary motor behavior, impulse control, rule learning, spatial learning, planning, and decisionmaking see Spear ; White and Swartzwelder These changes are especially extensive in humans.
Although the number of neurons and neuronal connections in the prefrontal cortex appear to decline during adolescence, the relative importance of the frontal lobes increases. Developmental changes in the behavioral relevance of certain brain areas are accompanied by increases or decreases in the activities of chemicals called neurotransmitters, which help transmit nerve signals from one neuron to another.
This signaling takes place when neurotransmitters released by one neuron bind to protein molecules called receptors on the surface of the receiving neuron. The interaction between the neurotransmitter and its receptor initiates chemical and electrical changes in the signal-receiving neuron that influence the generation of a new nerve signal in that cell.
In this way, nerve cells and circuits communicate and drive behavior. Excitatory neurotransmitters promote the generation of new nerve signals, whereas inhibitory neurotransmitters make it more difficult to generate a nerve signal in a signal-receiving neuron.
Numerous neurotransmitters and their receptors have been identified that act on specific cells or groups of cells and have specific effects on those cells. Two important neurotransmitter systems that undergo substantial changes during adolescence and are affected by alcohol consumption are dopamine and gamma-aminobutyric acid GABA.
Dopamine can have both excitatory and inhibitory effects, depending on the cells it acts on. Dopamine-releasing and dopamine-receiving cells are found in numerous brain areas. One prominent region, which lies deep within the brain, is called the striatum.
It consists of several components that are involved in behaviors such as learning to automatically execute complex movements triggered by a voluntary command e. Another dopamine-using area is the nucleus accumbens, which plays a role in learning and performing certain behaviors in response to incentive stimuli i.
Activity in the nucleus accumbens in part accounts for the fact that people perceive the effects of drinking alcohol or taking other drugs as pleasurable Di Chiara During adolescence, the dopamine system in the striatum appears to undergo substantial changes.
For example, studies in rats have found that dopamine receptor levels in the striatum increase during early adolescence but then decrease during late adolescence and young adulthood Teicher et al.The science of early brain development can inform investments in early childhood.
These basic concepts, established over decades of neuroscience and behavioral research, help illustrate why child development—particularly from birth to five years—is a foundation .
The scientists, to their surprise, discovered that the teenage brain undergoes an intense overproduction of gray matter(the brain tissue that does the “thinking”).
Then a period of “prun-ing” takes over, during which the brain discards gray matter at a.
Mar 01, · Adolescent risk-taking may be considered a group phenomenon, as it often occurs in a group setting (Steinberg, ).
The desire for social interactions and the vulnerability to peer influence are more pronounced during this developmental phase.
The Neuroscience of Somethings. neurons in the early adolescent brain become bushier, but adaptability and creativity do not expire on one's 30th birthday. John Medina is a developmental molecular biologist with an affiliate faculty appointment at the University of Washington School of Medicine, and the author of the recent book “Attack of the Teenage Brain!Understanding and Supporting the Weird and Wonderful Adolescent Learner.”.
Cannabis and the Adolescent Brain by India Bohanna, PhD | August 18, For some time, people have known that using cannabis during adolescence increases the risk of developing cognitive impairment and mental illness (e.g. depression, anxiety or schizophrenia) later in life.