Hey folks! We’re back with some neuroscience, thanks to my amazing friend (Ms. Adams), who always has interesting neuroscience questions for me. She tagged me on an article by NYPost on twitter and demanded some answers, so here we are! The … Continue reading Does eating spicy foods lead to dementia?
I shared a Neuroscience News and Research post on my facebook page the other day, and I got a question about it, so we’re here to get some answers! The Question: I shared this photo with a couple of people … Continue reading Above & Underneath the Cranium
“What if I told you there was something that you can do right now that would have an immediate, positive benefit for your brain including your mood and your focus? And what if I told you that same thing could actually last a … Continue reading The Brain-Changing Benefits of Exercise
Is sleep that important? It is baffles me when people say or think that the brain is asleep when they’re asleep. The fact is that if your brain ever fell asleep, you’d be in a coma, or you’d be brain … Continue reading The Sleep Deprived Brain
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You’ve got a headache or period pain and you reach out for painkillers that you’ve always got stowed away somewhere at home, in your bag, or your car. You pop a couple of pills and a few minutes later (depending on how … Continue reading The Inevitable: PAIN
When you think ‘Africa’, what’s the first disease that pops into your head? HIV? AIDS? Well, that’s accurate! In Nigeria alone, there were approximately 3.4 million people living with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and 170 thousand deaths due to … Continue reading HIV & the Brain – HAND
We’re only serving alcohol, and if it isn’t your preference, we apologise. You’re welcome to sit with the party though, you might learn a thing or two!
Ethanol a.k.a Alcohol, a substance found in wine, beer, cider, mead and liquor is produced by the fermentation of yeast, sugar and starches. Contrary to the popular saying ‘I got high off alcohol’, ethanol is a depressant i.e. it slows down (depresses) brain activity. So you’re technically getting low off alcohol. Alcohol affects the brain dramatically as it disrupts connections in the brain short-term. Long-term, it can lead to changes in the structure and function of the brain, resulting in a range of neurological issues.
Now I’m sure most of us drink responsibly, but let’s talk about what happens when drinking isn’t done responsibly. Alcohol is the most common substance of abuse, so a lot of people are doing it wrong! Drinking alcohol in moderation does have its health benefits, so it isn’t all bad, but there’s an ugly side to excessive drinking, especially when it’s used as an escape from reality – personal, social or career issues – it can lead to alcohol addiction or abuse. Another danger of alcohol abuse is when it’s mixed with other drugs for greater effects; it is much riskier and could be fatal.
Alcohol can be addictive, particularly for people who are already susceptible to being addicted. When a person becomes psychologically and psychically dependent on alcohol, to the extent where they are unable to function without it, that’s addiction. Alcohol abuse on the other hand isn’t exactly addiction. Someone who abuses alcohol may not drink as often as someone who’s addicted. Alcohol abuse occurs when it is drank excessively regardless of the consequence, putting the drinker and surrounding people at great risk. (e.g. alcohol poisoning and driving under the influence).
How does alcohol affect your brain?
There are short-term and long-term effects of alcoholism or alcohol abuse. The short-term effects which include drowsiness, slurred speech, sleep disruption, emotional changes, blackouts and temporary loss of consciousness and so on, are all due to alcohol slowing down the pace of communication between neurones and causing an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain.
Alcohol can affect different parts of the brain such as the cerebellum critical in motor coordination, the limbic system important in emotion and memory, and the cerebral cortex essential for thinking, planning and social interaction. In the long run, alcohol can also shrink brain tissue, affecting both the overall structure and function of the brain.
There are a number of alcohol-related neurological disorders, which include the following:
Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)
- Occurs when a pregnant woman drink alcohol.
- Brain damage to foetus, resulting in birth defects such as physical, cognitive and behavioural issues.
Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome (WKS)
- Brain damage due to thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency.
- Wernicke encephalopathy is a severe and short-term condition characterised by mental confusion, poor muscle coordination and paralysis of the oculomotor nerve (movement of the eyes).
- Korsakoff psychosis is a long-term condition characterised by poor coordination, difficulty walking, forgetfulness and amnesia (problems with learning & memory).
- Nerve damage due to vitamin B6 & 12, thiamine, folate, niacin, and vitamin E deficiencies.
- Symptoms include numbness, tingling, and prickly sensation in the arms and legs, muscles spasms and cramps, muscle weakness, movement disorders, urinary and bowel problems (incontinence, constipation & diarrhoea), sexual dysfunction, difficulty swallowing, impaired speech, dizziness, vomiting and nausea.
Alcohol Cerebellar Degeneration
- Due to degeneration of cerebellum (part of the brain that controls motor coordination and balance).
- Symptoms include unsteady walk, tremor in the trunk of the body, jerky movements of arms and legs, slurred speech and nystagmus (rapid eye movements).
- Damage of muscle fibres.
- Symptoms include muscle weakness, atrophy (decrease in muscle mass), cramps, stiffness, and spams.
Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome
- Due to a sudden stop in drinking after an extended period of excessive drinking.
- Symptoms include anxiety, depression, fatigue, mood swings, shakiness, nightmares, headaches, sweating, insomnia, nausea and vomiting.
- Symptoms such as confusion, sudden mood changes, hallucinations, fever, hyperthermia and seizures can also develop – this is a more severe withdrawal called delirium tremens.
Dementia and other Cognitive Defects
‘Mad people’, right? Have you ever thought about what makes them ‘mad’? Unfortunately most religious Nigerians would like to think there’s something spiritual behind most ‘mad’ people, if not all of them. This notion is very wrong, so we’re going to … Continue reading Who ends up in a psychiatric hospital in Nigeria?