Monday, February 26, 2018

Brain Cells and Alcohol

As more brain-function research is released it is important to update some of the brain-beliefs that have been around for a long time. For example, in the 1970s and 1980s the belief was that brain cells could be destroyed by excessive alcohol consumption. This was based on animal studies that showed alcohol exposure led to significant loss of neurons and/or glial cells. The Society for Neuroscience reportedly now states on its Brain Facts website, that moderate amounts of alcohol do not kill brain cells. According to Christopher von Bartheld at the University of Nevada, the present understanding is that alcohol abuse in humans mostly harms the fatty insulation—the “white matter” or myelin—that surrounds the axons of neurons. This will impair functioning but not necessarily lead to cell death. However, some neuronal loss can occur in especially vulnerable regions, principally in the frontal cortex that houses many of the important executive functions of the brain.

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