Next week is Brain Awareness Week–a great time to teach kids about their developing brains. In honor of this special week, created by the Dana Foundation, start conversations about what the developing brain does, what alcohol does to it, and what that does to them. Check out these five facts about the impact alcohol has on different parts of the developing brain, share them at home or in class, and then discuss ways and reasons to say “NO” to underage drinking.
- When the developing brain is impaired by alcohol, the cerebellum slows down impairing all voluntary and learned motor controls such as walking and talking.
- The hypothalamus works with the pituitary glands to balance hormones. When impaired by alcohol, it can cause an imbalance leading to decreased body temperature and a slowed heart rate.
- The medulla is the most important part of the developing brain. When impaired by alcohol, it can slow down or stop working, causing you to stop digesting, breathing or pumping blood to the body.
- The frontal lobe, part of the cerebral cortex, helps control emotions. When impaired by alcohol, it can cause confusion, making it harder to make smart choices and retain memories.
- Long-term use of alcohol can cause the developing brain to become dependent on it, making it difficult to work properly.
The Ask, Listen, Learn resources include videos about various parts of the developing brain and how each is affected by alcohol. There is also a video that focuses on how underage cannabis use affects the brain. Each of the videos has a corresponding lesson plan with classroom activities that feature traditional and interactive components and questions for discussion that include practical lessons such as decision making, goal setting, and refusal strategies.
We have also recently added even more prevention education lessons and activities to our website, including digital explorations that help kids learn more about the developing brain, how it works, and how it is affected by underage drinking and underage cannabis use.
Thank you for all the work you do to keep kids healthy and substance-free. We look forward to staying in touch throughout the year as we embark upon Ask, Listen, Learn’s 20th anniversary and recognize Alcohol Responsibility Month in April.