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Keywords:

  • alcohol;
  • adolescence;
  • brain;
  • ethanol

Abstract: Research in the area of adolescent alcohol use is progressing rapidly, as exemplified by the chapters in this section. Basic animal research in rodents has revealed adolescents to be more sensitive than adults to ethanol-induced disruptions in brain plasticity, although adolescents conversely are relatively insensitive to ethanol cues that serve to moderate intake. Risks for excessive alcohol consumption due to genetic background have been shown in primate research to be exacerbated by adverse early life experiences. Studies in clinical populations have revealed neurocognitive deficits evident years following adolescent alcohol abuse, along with evidence that some neural changes may predate adolescent alcohol abuse, whereas others appear to be a consequence of this abuse. Further research is needed to detail determinants and consequences of adolescent alcohol abuse and to identify potential protective factors to diminish the propensity for excessive use of alcohol during this critical developmental period.