Lead author Megan Anderson, a graduate student working with Tracey J. Shors, a professor in the Department of Psychology at Rutgers University, The State University of New Jersey, and postdoctoral fellow Miriam Nokia of the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland, said a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent -- the U.S. legal driving limit -- affected brain cell production negatively.
At this drinking level -- comparable to about three to four drinks for women and five drinks for men -- the number of nerve cells in the hippocampus of the brain in rodents with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 were reduced by nearly 40 percent compared to those in the abstinent group of rodents, the study found.
This level of alcohol intake was not enough to impair the motor skills of either male or female rats or prevent them from associative learning in the short-term, but it resulted in a substantial decrease in brain cell numbers over time that could have profound effects on brain health.
The study was published online and was scheduled to be published in the journal Neuroscience Nov. 8.
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