Moderate to binge drinking, i.e. remarkably high alcohol consumption on weekends than on weekdays, affects brain cell production negatively, researchers say.
According to the findings of the study, just two glasses of wine each day nearly halves the production of brain cells, resulting in impaired memory in the long run.
“Moderate drinking can become binge drinking without the person realizing it,” study’s lead researcher, Megan Anderson from Rutgers University in the US said.
“In the short term there may not be any noticeable motor skills or overall functioning problems, but in the long term this type of behavior could have an adverse effect on learning and memory.”
For the purpose of the study, Anderson and colleagues used rats to mimic the effects of moderate to heavy drinking in humans.
The rodents were randomly divided into two groups. While the first group was administered regular alcohol enough to create a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent in the rats, the legal driving limit in the US, the second group was kept way from it.
In the short-term, this level of alcohol consumption did not impair the rats’ motor skills or prevented them from associative learning.
But in the long run, the number of nerve cells in the hippocampus of the brain reduced by nearly 40 percent compared to those in the second group.
As new cells communicate with other neurons to regulate brain health, a reduction in the production of brain cells over time can profoundly impact adult brains, Anderson highlighted.
“If this area of your brain was affected every day over many months and years, eventually you might not be able to learn how to get somewhere new or to learn something new about your life,” Anderson explained.
The findings of the study are available online in the journal Neuroscience.