By: Samantha Costa

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Binge drinking during adolescence and young adulthood could damage your older adult brain, according to a study published Monday in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

The study, conducted by researchers from the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University Medical Center and Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center, demonstrated that changes in adult rats’ brains who were exposed to levels of alcohol akin to binge drinking damaged their long-term memory and learning skills.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as five or more drinks for men and four or more drinks for women within two hours.

The researchers also found that changes to the hippocampal circuits of the brain may increase the risk for injury, trauma or disease.

“In the eyes of the law, once people reach the age of 18, they are considered adult, but the brain continues to mature and refine all the way into the mid-20s,” lead author Mary-Louise Risher​, a post-doctoral researcher in the Duke Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, told the LA Times.

“It’s important for young people to know that when they drink heavily during this period of development, there could be changes occurring that have a lasting impact on memory and other cognitive functions.”

Risher told the LA Times that ongoing studies will examine if alcohol interrupts the brain’s ability to mature.

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