13 Aug 2014

How alcohol and cannabis damage the teen brain

From Nine To Noon, 9:30 am on 13 August 2014

Cannabis and alcohol damages the teen brainGroundbreaking research shows how binge drinking and cannabis use damages teenager's brains.  

Dr Lindsay Squeglia is a leading U.S. neuroscience researcher, visiting New Zealand for a symposium on Alcohol, Marijuana and the Adolescent Brain - organised by the Brain Wave Trust.

She conducted the first longitudinal research on adolescents aged 12 to 18 exploring the effects of alcohol and cannabis on young people's behaviours and performance. This involved scanning the brains of drinking and non-drinking teenagers over three years.

Dr Squeglia found binge drinking during adolescence causes the brain to be less efficient and less effective. She says it is associated with gender-specific differences in frontal, temporal, and cerebellar brain activity. She also found that females may be more vulnerable to the neurotoxic effects of heavy alcohol use during adolescence.  

She explains her research and findings to Kathryn Ryan on Nine to Noon.