Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) shows sex differences in adolescent responses to binge drinking

Binge drinking (defined as more than 4 drinks at one time for women and more than 5 drinks at one time for men) is higher in youth than in the general population (see some recent stats here).

Neuroimaging studies are giving us new ways of understanding the effects of alcohol on the body and are starting to find some interesting sex differences. For example, one recent study used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine spatial working memory (which affects cognition) in girls and boys in  relation to binge drinking. The researchers found that girls are more vulnerable to the effects of binge drinking.

Read more about the study in an article in The Stanford Daily (July 28, 2011).

References:

Squeglia, L. M., Schweinsburg, A. D., Pulido, C. and Tapert, S. F. (2011). Adolescent Binge Drinking Linked to Abnormal Spatial Working Memory Brain Activation: Differential Gender Effects. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. doi: 10.1111/j.1530-0277.2011.01527.x

Squeglia, L.M., Jacobus, J., and Tapert, S.F. (2009). The Influence of Substance Use on Adolescent Brain Development. Clin EEG Neuroscience,  40(1): 31–38. (Free full text available through PubMed Central).