18 March 2011

How alcohol affects young brains

Alcohol consumption during adolescence can change the perception of risk but does not affect how rewards are valued, researchers found.

Based on the results of a new study conducted with rats, researchers say that kids who drink alcohol may have trouble with decision-making in adulthood.

"Dopamine is central to the way we process and evaluate rewards and is the primary target in the brain for virtually all abused drugs," study author Jeremy J. Clark, an acting assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences, explained in a university news release.

In the rats, alcohol use during adolescence increased dopamine signalling to risky options but did not affect responses to rewards.


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