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Alcohol drinking slows brain growth in adolescent monkeys

Longitudinal study could inform future investigations of alcoholism in humans

Society for Neuroscience

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IMAGE: Figure 3. Heavy ethanol intake reduces rate of the white matter growth in NHP brain. A. 3D representation of the cortical white matter in the brain. B. The estimated rate... view more 

Credit: Shnitko et al., eNeuro (2019)

Heavy drinking during the cusp of adulthood reduces the rate of brain growth in male and female rhesus monkeys, according to new research published in eNeuro. The longitudinal study, supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, could inform future investigations into how these changes may influence problematic drinking in humans later in life.

Research in humans and rodents has established that excessive alcohol consumption is associated with reduced brain volume. Christopher Kroenke, Tatiana Shnitko and colleagues at the Oregon National Primate Research Center and Oregon Health & Science University extend these findings to demonstrate that ongoing brain development during late adolescence and early adulthood is affected by drinking behavior in a non-human primate model of voluntary alcohol use.

Specifically, the researchers show how different levels of alcohol affect brain growth. Monkeys characterized as heavy drinkers based on their alcohol consumption and blood samples had substantially reduced brain growth, particularly of white matter and the thalamus.

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Manuscript title: Chronic alcohol drinking slows brain development in adolescent and young adult non-human primates

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About eNeuro

eNeuro, the Society for Neuroscience's open-access journal launched in 2014, publishes rigorous neuroscience research with double-blind peer review that masks the identity of both the authors and reviewers, minimizing the potential for implicit biases. eNeuro is distinguished by a broader scope and balanced perspective achieved by publishing negative results, failure to replicate or replication studies. New research, computational neuroscience, theories and methods are also published.

About The Society for Neuroscience

The Society for Neuroscience is the world's largest organization of scientists and physicians devoted to understanding the brain and nervous system. The nonprofit organization, founded in 1969, now has nearly 37,000 members in more than 90 countries and over 130 chapters worldwide.

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