From Scientific American:
It's no secret that binge drinking and faulty decision-making go hand in hand, but what if poor judgment lingered long after putting the bottle down and sobering up? A new study with rats suggests that heavy alcohol consumption in adolescence could put people on the road to risky behavior.
Several studies have associated heavy drinking in youth with impaired judgment in adulthood, but these studies didn't resolve whether alcohol abuse actually predisposes people to develop bad decision-making skills, or if the people who indulged in excessive inebriation were risk-taking types to begin with. As Selena Bartlett, a director in the Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center at the University of California, San Francisco, explains, you cannot put adolescents in a room and ask them to consume alcohol to see what happens. But scientists can conduct these kinds of experiments with rats, an animal that Bartlett, who was not part of the study, says is “excellent for modeling changes in behavior” as a result of alcoholism.
In the new study published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists at the University of Washington (U.W.) in Seattle fed alcohol to a group of rats and found that their ability to make good decisions was impaired even long after they stopped consuming booze.