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05-09-1999, 06:29 AM
I know drinking and smoking cause brain damage. But which part of the brain? We supposedly use only 10% of our brains. Maybe the other 90% is the part that gets damaged.

I've been drinking and smoking heavily for the majority of my mature life. I don't see any ill effects except slight losses in memory.

I mean, I can still understand a new concept just as easily as I could some 10 years ago, when my mind was still , ahem, a virgin.



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05-09-1999, 07:37 AM
I think the brain cells go pretty much across the board, brain..The liver on the other hand you could worry about, much more useful than the brain.

05-09-1999, 08:56 AM
The "using only 10% of the brain" thing is a myth. Recent research shows that we use 100% of the brain, although we're only aware of a small percentage of what's going on. So you may not be losing only cognitive functions, but the ability to percieve, process those perceptions and remember.

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Those who can't hear the music, think the dancer is mad.

05-09-1999, 11:22 AM
What a crock!

Darn near everything we use today was conceived developed,invented,or perfected by a couple of generations who smoked.

Let's wait and see what the non-smoking generations come up with!

05-09-1999, 11:28 AM
I read of a study that showed that smoking a cigarette actually increases cognitive ability for a few minutes. I noticed that effect also (back when I used to smoke cigarettes).

It's also (short term) possible to enhance one's creativity by smoking weed.


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Contestant #3

05-10-1999, 11:16 AM
The first and only time I ever got really drunk was at a victory party with my college rowing team, at the end of my junior year. I can clearly remember downing my 5th drink, but after that, things get all fuzzy and confused. Stories vary, but I'm told that I had between 6 and 12 drinks that night.

I think I lost a small portion of my mental agility that night. Geek that I am, I used to be able to do all kinds of mathematical gymnastics in my head almost instantly; but during my senior year I realized I wasn't quite as quick. Really complicated programming constructions are also far harder to hold in memory.

Is it really possible that I damaged my mental capacity in one night of stupidity and tequila? Or am I just slowing down as I get older?

05-10-1999, 03:40 PM
Re "10% of the brain": Cecil has dealt with this. We do use 100% of our brain, but *not at the same time*. If we did, we'd have a grand mal seizure. I believe between 5 and 15% of the brain is active at one time.

Incidentally, I heard once of three or four students at Harvard who were taken ill with seizures. It turned out that their brains were grossly atrophied - a small fraction of the brain mass of an ordinary person - but since their brainlets were so efficient, they were much smarter than average. They were having the seizures because they were using so much of their brain at the same time. True? I dunno. I hope so :)

05-11-1999, 03:59 PM
I am pretty skeptical about the idea that alcohol/marijuana/etc kills brain cells. I remember hearing as a child that TV, Mad Magazine, Stupid movies etc killed brain cells and the whole thing smacks of Urban Legend.
Its pretty clear that it is possible to drink enough so that you stop breathing, and the lack of oxygen to your brain causes permanent brain damage-- but it takes a bit of skill to that without killing yourself

Its also clear that alcohol does prevent the brain cells you do have from working-- but this goes away when you sober up.
Prolonged alcohol abuse does seem to cause brain damage --DTs or the Shakes for example, but I'm not even sure if that is permanent.

05-11-1999, 04:50 PM
I recall reading about studies that have shown that the brain can transfer functions that are supposed to be in one part of the brain into another (grammar gods please don't stike me down). I seem to remember them showing that people have had parts of their brain removed and rather than losing, say, their ability to perform small motor skills (which were trhought to be controlled by the part of the brain that was removed), this function was simply taken over by another part of the brain.

does anyone else remember reading about this? do I have it right?

05-11-1999, 05:23 PM
matt_mcl>

That shrunken brain story smacks of an UL. However, I couldn't find anything on it at snopes or the UL homepage.

I could have sworn I'd heard a version of it before, but now I can't think of the specifics.

05-11-1999, 11:58 PM
No quote - general observation on alcohol killing brain cells.

A herd of buffalo can only run as fast as it's slowest member. Predators improve the herd by culling out the weakest, slowest members.
Similarly, alcohol targets the weakest, slowest brain cells to kill, leaving the stronger, faster cells behind to function unencumbered by the slow ones.
This is why you feel so smart after a few margaritas.

(Do not ask me for a MEDline citation for this phenomenon)



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Sue from El Paso
members.aol.com/majormd/index.html (http://members.aol.com/majormd/index.html)

05-12-1999, 09:33 PM
I remember college days (70's) when we pursued a similar logic to the effect that stomping cockroaches in the domicile only aided the selective survival of cockroaches you couldn't catch (stomp), ergo, leave'em alone.

regards all

05-31-1999, 06:21 PM
Okay, where to start...

First of all, as others have pointed out, it is a myth that we only use 10% of our brain. We use all of it. The physical amount of brain used doesn't mean jack. What matters is the efficiency of the neuronal connections our brains create.

As far as Contestant #3's comment goes, I think it's probably a cracked-out study with completely non-replicable results. You'll find that's true of most "startling study shows..." reports you'll read in the Sun and Inquirer, and even on some news programs.
I'd also like to point out that there are conflicting studies as to the marijuana enhancing creativity story. While there are studies that show marijuana does enhance creativity, there are equally reputable studies that conclude that people on marijuana only think they're being more creative. In fact, I recall one report (I can't remember by whom, and it was only one, so I'd take it cum grano salis for now) that showed that people under the influence of marijuana were actually more predictable to psychologists.

AuraSeer, most likely one night of drunken stupor wouldn't have noticeable effects beyond the normal impairments and possible loss of memories from your hours of drunkenness.

Ezra, you're in denial. Alcohol damages, if not kills, brain cells. Fact.

yepitsme is correct in that it has been shown that removing one area of the brain doesn't necessarily mean removal of the abilities of that area. There are two reasons for this. First of all, the brain is very plastic; that is, it can form and reform depending on neural activity. The brain does, however, lose this plasticity increasingly with age. The older you are, the harder it will be to recover lost skills. (The second most noticeable drop, I believe, occurs in the mid-20s. The greatest drop in plasticity occurs during childhood, sometime before adolescence.)
The other reason for this recovery is that the brain does not have cut-and-dry sections for specific activities. While the occipital lobe is considered to contain the visual cortex, EEGs show that there are areas outside of the occipital lobe that are just as involved in vision.

Majormd, you feel so smart after a few margaritas because you're drunk. The rest of your post is a common myth propagated by people who worry about their brains, but not enough to stop drinking.

If you have any more neuroscience-related questions, feel free to e-mail me, since I don't check this board as often as I'd like.


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Steve Christ
God in Training

05-31-1999, 07:04 PM
>>Re "10% of the brain": Cecil has dealt with this. We do use 100% of our brain, but *not at the same time*. If we did, we'd have a
grand mal seizure. I believe between 5 and 15% of the brain is active at one time.<<

Well, no, not exactly, but seizures aren't voluntary activity. You are correct on the % points though; we use all of our brains, just not all at once.

>>Incidentally, I heard once of three or four students at Harvard who were taken ill with seizures. It turned out that their brains were grossly atrophied - a small fraction of the brain mass of an ordinary person - but since their brainlets were so efficient, they were much smarter than average. They were having the seizures because they were using so much of their brain at the same time. True?<<

Must be a UL. Like I said, seizures aren't voluntary. BTW, there're such things are focal seizures, where only a part of the brain seizes while the rest rest of the brain is awake and aware.

A brain seizing isn't like a light that's constantly on; it's like a light that flickers on and off for no apparant reason.

Hemispherectomees (people who have had a hemispherectomy, ie, removal of one hemisphere of the brain) experience the phenomenon of the other half taking over the functions of the lost half WHEN THEY ARE CHILDREN. Children's brains are not fully differentiated, so one part of the brain can take up the slack for another part that is lost or damaged. However adults, notably stroke victims, who lose some brain function don't have the same experience of the rest of the brain making up for the loss, because their brains are fully differentiated. That is, each area is dedicated to a particular function.

As for the OP: brain damage is funny; I have clients with progressive brain damage due to genetic conditions. Although on a neurological level, the damage may be slow and steady, the loss of function comes in spurts. So a drinker could lose, say 1,000 neurons for every ounce of liquor, but not notice any impairment in function until he has lost 1,000,000 neurons, then suddenly he experiences speech aphasia, or tunnel vision, or some other evidence of brain damage.


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--Rowan

If my mother had been in charge of the War on Drugs,
it would be "Just say 'No thank you.'"

06-01-1999, 12:38 AM
Sure brain cells die, but only the WEAK ones ...

06-01-1999, 10:54 AM
Re: Brain Cells Dying

I have heard of (read: can't find a reference for) several studies stating that alcohol only kills the glial cells and leaves the neurons alone. The glial cells are responsible for general upkeep in the brain and are completely regenerable (unlike neurons). I have also heard of a more recent study that states that the neurons are also affected, but I can't remember how. Maybe someone (in the medical profession, maybe) can find the actual references.

TheDude

kski
10-25-2004, 06:10 AM
Anyway, back to the question. It seems that excess alcohol intake affects the frontal lobe of our brain, which contains our Memory center, and our Emotions and Judgement. But it may affect the rest of the brain also. The effects are mainly evident in our Judgement, Emotions, and Memory though. You may not be able to tell too much yourself how Alcohol and Smoking has affect your brain but others who have known you for many years might be able to tell, or it can be more subtle. We have trillions of cells, but the fact that too much alcohol, and/or drugs kill brain cells is still bad enough. How we are affected is only partially understood, and what we know is bad enough. Not only are we ourselves affected by drug or alcohol abuse but our children are. Scientists are now finding out that Males who drink or use drugs affect their sperm and can also cause birth defects in their offspring, not just women who abuse the same.

Dog80
10-25-2004, 06:14 AM
Actually, Scientists Believe we use only 0.10% of our brain's capacity, not 10%

Do you have a cite for that?

Mangetout
10-25-2004, 06:20 AM
We supposedly use only 10% of our brains.This is actually just a myth.

Mangetout
10-25-2004, 06:23 AM
Ack! Zombie thread!

Sorry.

Ellis Dee
10-25-2004, 08:23 AM
Actually, Scientists Believe we use only 0.10% of our brain's capacity, not 10%Um, no. My favorite retort to this ridiculous idea is that almost 30% of the brain is devoted to sight.

And why do you keep resurrecting (sp?) five year old threads?

Johnny L.A.
10-25-2004, 08:29 AM
If I ever have a kid, I think I'd like to name him 'Brian Damage'.

Or maybe 'Attila James'.

bibliophage
10-25-2004, 09:15 AM
kski, please don't resurrect threads that are more than a month or two old unless perhaps you have a very specific factual answer to the original question that wasn't answered previously. In any case, threads this old shouldn't be bumped at all.

bibliophage
moderator GQ