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See Inside September / October 2011

How much can the brain recover from years of excessive alcohol consumption?

Richard Ridderinkhof, professor of neurocognitive development and aging at the University of Amsterdam, answers

Other reports, however, have found sustained injury in certain areas. Some former alcohol abusers show permanent damage to the hippocampus, a brain region that regulates long-term memory and spatial navigation, and only partial resolution of lesions on the white matter.

Although the effects of abstinence on the alcohol-abused brain vary, it appears that we display at least some ability to recover from the effects of excessive drinking. Future neuroimaging studies should clarify the full extent and potential for recuperation.

This article was originally published with the title "Ask the Brains."

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