Binge drinking

EXTRA INFORMATION

The effect of binge drinking on the teenage brain

WHAT WE KNOW

In adolescence, the brain undergoes active rewiring of circuitry that is necessary for successful development of ‘adult’ adaptive patterns of behaviour and cognitive functioning, with particular focus on the frontal lobe and its connections. Prof Lindy Rae is examining this connectivity in the brains of binge drinkers and comparing these ‘tracts’ to those from control (abstaining) participants. We are also studying the size of brain regions known to be affected by alcohol, such as the hippocampus, to see whether brain structure is altered by binge drinking.

We are using questionnaires, cognitive testing and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to look for changes in structure and connectivity as well as chemical differences in the brain.

Alcohol is thought to induce a state where the glutamate system – the major excitatory system in the brain – becomes unbalanced. We have found significant elevations in frontal lobe glutamate in boys who binge drink. Binge drinkers showed impaired neuro-cognitive function, with significantly slower responses and greater errors on the tests of inhibition and poorer emotional face recognition compared to non-drinkers. These changes were positively correlated with binge drinking episodes and alcohol consumption.

We are recruiting the final 12 participants

Neuroscience Research Australia and The National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the The University of New South Wales are conducting a study on the adolescent brain. We are looking for 16- and 17-year-olds who either drink alcohol regularly or do not drink alcohol at all to help us understand more about the brain during adolescence. Participation involves questionnaires/tests and a brain MRI (reimbursement: $95).
For more information, email Dr Lucette Cysique: lcysique@unsw.edu.au

 

See what’s going on at NeuRA

FEEL THE BUZZ IN THE AIR? US TOO.

The cold case of schizophrenia - broken wide open!

‘It is like they were miraculously healed!’’ Schizophrenia is diagnosed by clinical observation of behaviour and speech. This is why NeuRA researchers are working hard to understand the biological basis of the illness. Through hours of work and in collaboration with doctors and scientists here and around the world, NeuRA has made an amazing breakthrough. For the first time, researchers have discovered the presence of antibodies in the brains of people who lived with schizophrenia. Having found these antibodies, it has led NeuRA researchers to ask two questions. What are they doing there? What should we do about the antibodies– help or remove them? This is a key breakthrough. Imagine if we are treating schizophrenia all wrong! It is early days, but can you imagine the treatment implications if we’ve identified a new biological basis for the disease? It could completely change the way schizophrenia is managed, creating new treatments that will protect the brain. More than this, could we be on the verge of discovering a ‘curable’ form of schizophrenia? How you can help We are so grateful for your loyal support of schizophrenia research in Australia, and today I ask if you will consider a gift today. Or, to provide greater confidence, consider becoming a Discovery Partner by making a monthly commitment. We believe there is great potential to explore these findings. Will you help move today’s breakthrough into tomorrow’s cure? To read more about this breakthrough, click ‘read the full story’ below. You are also invited to read ‘Beth’s story’, whose sweet son Marcus lived with schizophrenia, by clicking here.
APPEAL