Recent binge drinking predicts smaller cerebellar volumes in adolescents

Psychiatry Res. 2013 Jan 30;211(1):17-23. doi: 10.1016/j.pscychresns.2012.07.009. Epub 2012 Nov 13.


The current study examined the effects of recent binge drinking on cerebellar morphometry in a sample of healthy adolescents. Participants were 106 teenagers (46 bingers and 60 controls) aged 16-19 who received a high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. FreeSurfer segmented and quantified the volume of each cerebellum. Maximum drinks during a binge in the past 3 months and duration since last binge were examined as predictors of cerebellar volume, after controlling for potentially confounding variables. In the 106 teens, higher peak drinks predicted smaller left hemisphere cerebellar gray and whitematter, and right hemisphere cerebellar gray matter, and marginally predicted smaller right hemisphere cerebellar white matter. Gender did not moderate these effects. More intense adolescent binge drinking is linked to smaller cerebellar volumes even in healthy teens, above and beyond variability attributable to risk factors for binge drinking. Longitudinal research is needed to see if cerebellar volumes worsen with protracted drinking and recover with abstinence. Interventions aimed at improving brain structure in adolescent binge drinkers are necessary given the high prevalence of risky drinking in youth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Binge Drinking / pathology*
  • Cerebellum / drug effects
  • Cerebellum / pathology*
  • Ethanol / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Organ Size / drug effects*
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult


  • Ethanol