It has been known that teenagers are prone to impulsive behavior and do not fully consider the long term consequences of their actions.
With recent advances in neuroscience and MRI technology it has become evident why teenagers act the way they do.
It turns out that the teenage brain is still developing. Teenage brains are undergoing an important yet challenging developmental stage in which it is prone to errors in judgment and sensitive to psychoactive substances (i.e. alcohol and other drugs).
Affected is the area of the brain that controls impulse, sets priorities, processes abstract information and allows for understanding rules and laws for social interaction. MRI studies show that the development of this area may not be fully complete until the mid-20s.
An American Medical Association study comparing magnetic resonance imaging of the brains of 14-21 year olds who abused alcohol with those of non-drinkers found that drinkers had about 10 percent smaller hippocampi, which is the area of the brain that handles memory and learning.
This information should serve as a wakeup call to adults who believe that underage drinking is an inevitable "rite of passage."
It is our responsibility as parents and adults to provide an environment for adolescents to grow and learn to their fullest potential and not suffer brain damage due to underage alcohol use.
Sherry Gioiosa, Prevention Educator Blair County Drug and Alcohol Program Inc., Duncansville