Adolescent alcohol use is a widespread problem in the United States. In both humans and rodents, alcohol can impair learning and memory processes mediated by forebrain areas such as the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and hippocampus (HC). Adolescence is a period in which alcohol use often begins, and it is also a time that can be uniquely sensitive to the detrimental effects of alcohol. Exposure to alcohol during adolescence can cause persisting alterations in PFC and HC neurobiology that are linked to cognitive impairments, including changes in neurogenesis, inflammation, and various neurotransmitter systems in rodent models. Consistent with this, chronic adolescent alcohol exposure can cause PFC-dependent learning impairments that persist into adulthood. Deficits in adult HC-dependent learning after adolescent alcohol exposure have also been reported, but these findings are less consistent. Overall, evidence summarized in this review indicates that adolescent exposure to alcohol can produce long-term detrimental effects on forebrain-dependent cognitive processes.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Behavioral Neuroscience