A new study has shown that alcohol exposure during adolescence, before the brain is fully developed, can result in abnormalities that have enduring, detrimental effects on a person’s behaviour.
And scientists warn alcohol could also slow down emotional maturity.
Dr Mary-Louise Risher, at Duke University, said: ‘In the eyes of the law, once people reach the age of 18, they are considered adult.
‘But the brain continues to mature and refine all the way into the mid 20s.
‘It’s important for young people to know that when they drink heavily during this period of development, there could be changes occurring that have a lasting impact on memory and other cognitive functions.’
Researchers periodically exposed young rodents to a level of alcohol during adolescence that, in humans, would result in impairment, but not sedation.