Effects on Different Brain regions

As blood alcohol levels rise, alcohol alters different parts of the brain to produce feelings of intoxication. Alcohol intoxication disrupts normal activity and function of the following brain regions:

Frontal Lobes: Manage cognitive functions (planning, decision-making, judgment) alcohol impairs these functions leading to poor decisions and judgment during intoxication.

Cerebellum: Coordinates balance and body movements alcohol disrupts coordination of motor functions.

Hippocampus: Important for learning and formation of memories alcohol impairs cognitive functions and can lead to memory loss.

Amygdala: Contributes to positive (pleasure) and negative (fear/anxiety) emotions alcohol intoxication alters emotional reactions and leads to impulsive behavior.

Striatum: Important for motivated behavior alcohol alters function to enhance motivation to drink and reduce flexibility to engage in other healthier behaviors.

Brain stem: Controls vital life support functions (breathing, heart rate) heavy alcohol intoxication can shut these systems down, resulting in coma and death.

Download a pdf of our feature that ran in the Post & Courier

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Center for Drug & Alcohol Programs
MUSC
67 President Street
MSC 861
Charleston, SC
(843) 792-2727