Research has suggested that people who binge drink while they are under-age are having a damaging impact on their brain.
Conducted by the UNC School of Medicine, the report looked at young people's relationship with alcohol and found that a substantial percentage of young people are drinking heavily.
However, the binge drinking is coinciding with a period of critical brain development between the ages of 12 and 20.
This is when the growth of the cortex reaches its peak, while a major rearrangements of neurons takes place.
The team, led by Fulton Crews, professor of pharmacology and director of the Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies, looked at laboratory mice and discovered that those who were given large amounts of alcohol in adolescence had smaller forebrain volume and size in adulthood.
In separate learning experiments, the animals showed much less behavioural flexibility when compared to those not exposed to alcohol.
Professor Crews commented: "Our findings suggest that human individuals who drink heavily during adolescence may be more likely to have deficits in being able to adapt successfully to changing life situations as adults, possibly tied to chemical and or structural changes in the frontal cortex."