Principal investigator of the Adolescent and Alcohol project (ALPRO) and research group Virve Kekkonen works at the University of Eastern Finland as a clinical teacher in psychiatry (including youth psychiatry) and as a specialist in youth psychiatry at the Kuopio University Hospital. The first part of the ALPRO project took place in 2013-2015. The follow-up research phase started in 2021.
The first part of the follow-up study showed changes in volume in the posterior regions of the cerebellum found in magnetic images of the brain in young adults who had consumed high amounts of alcohol in adolescence. These brain areas affect motor and intellectual functions. “Repeated binge drinking in adolescence has been linked to changes in cerebellar volume in young adulthood,” explains Virve. Virve’s group has also performed studies concerning youth wellbeing, friend relationships and loneliness. “Our results show how an adolescent friend relationship can also play role to well-being in adulthood,” sums Virve.
The link between adolescent mental and physical well-being is studied in the Adolescent Psychiatry Clinic. In addition to the ALPRO project, the Youth Welfare Research project and the REAL-SMART project are currently ongoing. Research collaboration partners include Department of Psychiatry, Radiology and Clinical Physiology at Kuopio University Hospital, Department of Public Health Science and Clinical Nutrition at the University of Eastern Finland, University of Oslo, Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, and Neurocenter Finland.
Adolescent and Alcohol project: https://www.uef.fi/en/article/binge-drinking-in-adolescence-is-linked-to-changes-in-the-cerebellum-in-young-adulthood
Adolescent friend relationships and loneliness research (in Finnish): https://www.uef.fi/fi/artikkeli/nuoruusian-kaverisuhteet-lisaavat-ja-yksinaisyys-vahentaa-elamantyytyvaisyytta-nuorella-aikuisialla
Adolescent Psychiatry Research Group: https://uefconnect.uef.fi/en/group/adolescent-psychiatry-youth-well-being-study-and-real-smart/