Teens Should Take a Lesson From Drunken Monkeys, Study Shows
Binge drinking is bad for teenagers -- and monkeys.
Researchers at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif., obviously couldn't experiment on the effects of heavy drinking on actual adolescent human beings.
So they found some real swingers and party animals. In other words, they got a bunch of monkeys drunk.
Researchers gave Rhesus monkeys large amounts of booze over a short period of time, the Daily Telegraph in London reports. A control group was kept clean and sober. Two months later, researchers analyzed the monkeys' brains.
The newspaper reports researchers found that the drunken monkeys were producing fewer brain cells and sustained damage to the hippcampus, a part of the brain that plays a crucial role in long-term memory and spatial navigation.
Researchers warn binge drinking could condemn teenagers to lives as forgetful and absent-minded adults.
"Binge alcohol consumption in adolescents is increasing, and studies in animal models show that adolescence is a period of high vulnerability to brain insults," Dr. Chitra Mandyam, the leader of the study, tells the Daily Telegraph.
In the drunken monkeys, booze "significantly decreased" the number of actively dividing cells, he adds.
"This lasting effect, observed two months after alcohol discontinuation, may underlie the deficits in hippocampus-associated cognitive tasks that are observed in alcoholics," he tells the newspaper.
The study is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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