Drinking After Learning Helps Remember Stuff

By Gary Cutlack on at

A study into the effects of drinking has found something good again. This time, researchers had the amazing idea of giving people alcohol after they'd been taught something and found that, amazingly, getting mildly drunk afterwards seemed to make the lesson stick in their memories better.

The University of Exeter carried out the test on a lucky sample of 88 people who identified themselves as social drinkers. They were given a word-learning task then told to drink as much or as little as they liked afterwards. The drinkers consumed an average of four units and, when compared with the non-drinkers the next day, were found to have a better recall of the words learned.

It's almost as if they're saying getting drunk is good as, better still, those who drunk the most also remembered the most.

Exeter's Professor Celia Morgan explained why this might be the case with: "The causes of this effect are not fully understood, but the leading explanation is that alcohol blocks the learning of new information and therefore the brain has more resources available to lay down other recently learned information into long-term memory. The theory is that the hippocampus – the brain area really important in memory – switches to 'consolidating' memories, transferring from short into longer-term memory."

So you're sacrificing making new memories in order to better store away the recent ones, meaning that "drinking to forget" might actually make the memories of a bad thing more vivid. [University of Exeter]


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