Forget what you've heard about alcohol - booze consumption could apparently improve your memory. Although its ill effects have often been touted, a new study has shown a marked enhancement of memory when it comes to information learned before alcohol consumption. The study comes out of the University of Exeter, and has revealed that alcohol use may improve memory among social drinkers.
The study was initiated to test the impact of alcohol on memory outside a laboratory setting. The study involved a test sample of 88 (57 female, 31 male) individuals aged 18-53, half of whom were required to drink after learning a list of words and the rest were to remain sober. The quantity of alcohol taken was dependent on the individual, with an average of four units. Results were collected before, immediately after, and sometime after the initial test. The highest rates of remembrance were observed in those who drank after the test a period afterward (the next morning). When presented with the same word task the following day, those who drank alcohol showed a higher rate of recall than those who were sober. The more alcohol consumed, the higher the rates of recall of information learned before drinking. A second test performed after drinking revealed no significant differences in the rates of recall. The second test involved observing a series of images after drinking. Both groups had almost similar rates of recall.
The study is quick to note, however, that while consuming alcohol may improve short-term memory, it has an overall negative effect on health and well-being.
The scientists have developed theories as to why alcohol may improve memory. One such theory suggests that taking alcohol blocks the learning facilities. This gives the brain more time to subconsciously process the information learned before alcohol consumption and stores it in the long-term memory. The explanation is widely accepted among researchers from several studies in laboratories that have shown alcohol-induced memory. The study improves on previous studies by examining the social drinkers in their natural environment, which allows them to act freely in regards to the amount of alcohol taken as opposed to a laboratory setting where the alcohol limit is controlled.