Social drinkers probably wouldn’t consider memory recall one of the benefits to their Friday night habit, but a new study shows that a few drinks may actually strengthen your ability to learn new information.
Researchers at the University of Exeter conducted a study by giving 88 participants a word-learning task. Participants were then divided at random into two groups. One group was told to drink as much as they want, while the other was told not to drink at all.
The next day, participants were asked to complete the same task. Surprisingly, those who had drank alcohol did better when remembering what they learned the previous day.
“The theory is that the hippocampus – the brain area really important in memory – switches to ‘consolidating’ memories, transferring from short into longer-term memory,” said Professor Celia Morgan of Exeter.
The researchers stressed that this limited positive effect should be taken in stride along with the other well-established negative effects of alcohol on memory, mental and physical health.
The study’s participants were made up of 31 males and 57 females, aged 18-53. The findings were published in Nature journal Scientific Reports.
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