For my research paper, I will be diving deeper into the conversation surrounding the legal drinking age, more specifically, raising it from twenty-one to twenty-five. Alcohol has been known for its harmful effects on the brain and body, however, the specifics surrounding the two are never fully discussed as the issue with drinking has been pushed aside in recent years with more prominent issues taking center stage. I will argue that raising the drinking age to that of twenty-five will help younger generations understand the negative effects alcohol has on the brain, especially the development at the end, and the body, more specifically on the internal organs instead of externally.
1. Human Brain Development Does Not Stop At Adolescence: Research
Background: This source explains that the human brain does not stop developing at adolescence, but it instead keeps on developing well into our 20’s. Research conducted at the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry at the University of Alberta provides evidence that indeed confirms that fact. By using a type of imaging that examines brain wiring, researchers were able to see that in the white matter changes were still occurring, well into young adulthood. The changes were happening, for young adults, in the frontal lobe part of the brain,
How I Intend To Use It: I will use this as concrete evidence to show that the brain does not stop developing before people reach the age of twenty-one (the age that they can legally consume alcohol). It is also to debunk any counters that the brain does indeed stop developing before twenty-one and therefore alcohol cannot be harmful to the brain in terms of development.
2. 3 Things That Happen To The Human Brain At 25
Background: In a certain section of this source, the final part of brain development (which is the prefrontal cortex) is discussed. The author explains how at twenty-five, the risk management and long-term planning skills are starting to kick in at this point. Scientists have said that this part of the brain takes the longest to fully develop, and that by the age of twenty-five, the so called “remodel” of the brain comes to its end after its beginning at the age of thirteen.
How I Intend To Use It: I will use this section of this source to build up off of the last source in terms of going off of what the last part of the brain to develop is. The prefrontal cortex controls areas such as planning, complex behaviors, and impulse control and this information is important because if the brain development is stunted by the use of alcohol, then these important functions for a human to have mentally can be interrupted sooner than they should be.
3. Prefrontal Cortex
Background: This source delves deeper into the prefrontal cortex and what role it plays, how it develops, and the different parts of the prefrontal cortex. In terms of the role that the prefrontal cortex plays, it is a huge part of personality development, and like the previous source stated, this part of the brain deals with those complex emotions and behaviours. For how it develops, the brain does its development in a back to front order thus the prefrontal cortex is the last in line. For this development, experience plays a big role, so most neurologists can agree that by the time someone reaches twenty-five, the prefrontal cortex is fully developed. There are three different parts of the prefrontal cortex: the medial, the orbital, and the lateral. The medial cortex contributes to attention and motivation, and it can be simplified as a sort of start button. The orbital cortex control impulses and ignores distractions, but it also helps keep strong emotions in check. The lateral cortex allows for plans to be created, organized in a certain sequence, and then be executed. It is safe to say that the prefrontal cortex is an important part of the human brain.
How I Intend To Use It: This source goes into further detail with the prefrontal cortex, explaining the role, the brain’s development process, and the three different parts of this cortex. I plan to use this source to go even deeper than just claiming that alcohol stunts the brain because of xyz. Instead, I intend to use this information to build my argument in terms of emphasizing how important this part of the brain is and how alcohol consumption leads to these functions not being as strong or being incomplete all together.
4. Effects of Alcohol on Brain: Damage and Treatment
Background: This source goes into both the short and long term effects of alcohol on the brain, and it also states the areas of the brain that are the most susceptible to being harmed by alcohol use. The prefrontal cortex is mentioned as one that changes personality and emotions drastically when damaged by alcohol and this is an important area of the brain, however another part controls an important part of the brain. The Hippocampus is in charge of memory creation and when this is messed with, it can be difficult for a person to create new memories. In terms of the short term effects of alcohol, blackouts are the most common and these have problems of their own with forgetting what happened while intoxicated, which can be very dangerous. The long term effects are more centered around worsened memory, thinking, and emotion control. Overall, both short and long term effects offer bad conclusions in their own way.
How I Intend To Use It: I intend to use this source as more evidence for why the legal drinking age should be raised. Those at twenty-one would be doing more harm to their brain as it is not fully developed in the first place, and then adding on extra harm with thoughts and memories at an early age is not good. Additionally, most twenty-one year olds get ahead of themselves and consume more than they are capable of or more than what is reasonable because they are young and not fully thinking in the moment as someone who is twenty-five would do.
5. Physical Effects Of Long Term Alcoholism
Background: This source goes into the more physical aspects of alcohol consumption. The author breaks down each organ or system that are then affected by alcohol use. In terms of the heart, drinking leads to a high blood pressure which would then potentially lead to a heart attack, and with long term drinking, the heart can experience high levels of stress. The liver is an organ that breaks down slowly, so if a person stops drinking early, the liver can recover, however if it is in the late stage, then the liver can continue to take damage. With the immune system, its ability to fight off bacteria is weakened thus potentially causing easier infection and illness which over time can greatly damage the body. Even reproduction can be harmed by the use of alcohol. Risky behavior is the most known factor, but alcohol consumption can also lead to low hormone levels and women risking infertility.
How I Intend To Use It: I intend to use the physical factors of alcohol consumption to add more to my argument about raising the legal age. Including the physical aspects are just as important as the brain because like the brain, no one can see the organs being damaged as someone runs around at twenty-one drinking recklessly compared to someone who is twenty-five who would be more aware of the effects and would most likely know how to pace/control themselves.