Animal Study: Adolescent Drinking Predicts Bad Decisions in Adulthood
Adolescent rats that consume large amounts of alcohol were more likely to make poor decisions as adults, suggesting that youthful drinking could set the stage for more bad decisionmaking later in life, according to researchers.
WebMD reported Sept. 21 that researchers from the University of Washington said that the alcohol-consuming rats were more likely to push a lever that gave them an uncertain number of treats rather than a constant amount; non-drinking rats were more apt to choose the latter lever.
Study co-author Ilene Bernstein and colleagues speculated that youthful drinking may damage the developing brain. “Scientists believe regions of the brain, including those implicated in decision making, are slow to develop and development extends into adolescence,” said Bernstein. “This study shows that these late-developing structures in rats are affected by high alcohol use.”
The study appears in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.