Can the Brain Recover From Alcoholism?
Evidence shows that heavy alcohol use modifies the structure and physiology of the brain, although the extent of recovery after years of abstinence is remains uncertain.
What's the Latest Development?
Recent brain scans have revealed that chronic alcoholism can damage the cerebellum, the part of the brain that plays an important role in regulating motor control, attention and language, says Richard Ridderinkhof, professor of neurocognitive development and aging at the University of Amsterdam. "It can also cause the prefrontal cortex to shrink and degrade, potentially impairing decision-making skills and social behavior." The white matter connecting brain regions can also be damaged.
What's the Big Idea?
To what extent can the brain recover from prolonged alcoholism? After comparing former alcoholics who have long abstained from drink to those who have always drunk minimally, researchers believe that brain regions can return to their original volume and that connections across different regions can be repaired. In some regions, however, the damage caused by alcohol abuse appears permanent. The hippocampus, for example, which regulates long-term memory and spacial navigation, does not seem to recover.
Jonathan Zimmerman explains why teachers should invite, not censor, tough classroom debates.
- During times of war or national crisis in the U.S., school boards and officials are much more wary about allowing teachers and kids to say what they think.
- If our teachers avoid controversial questions in the classroom, kids won't get the experience they need to know how to engage with difficult questions and with criticism.
- Jonathan Zimmerman argues that controversial issues should be taught in schools as they naturally arise. Otherwise kids will learn from TV news what politics looks like – which is more often a rant than a healthy debate.
Controversial map names CEOs of 100 companies producing 71 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.
- Just 100 companies produce 71 percent of the world's greenhouse gases.
- This map lists their names and locations, and their CEOs.
- The climate crisis may be too complex for these 100 people to solve, but naming and shaming them is a good start.
It marks another milestone in SpaceX's long-standing effort to make spaceflight cheaper.
- SpaceX launched Falcon Heavy into space early Tuesday morning.
- A part of its nosecone – known as a fairing – descended back to Earth using special parachutes.
- A net-outfitted boat in the Atlantic Ocean successfully caught the reusable fairing, likely saving the company millions of dollars.
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