Consuming alcohol could be beneficial for people learning something new. Findings of a new study have found that drinking booze after studying may help boost the brain's ability to retain information.
Alcohol Consumption And Memory
In the new study, researchers gave 88 social drinkers a word-learning task to see how alcohol consumption can influence memory.
The study participants were told to either drink as much as they liked or not drink at all. The next day, the participants were asked to do the same task again. The researchers found that those who drank alcohol were able to remember more of what they have learned.
While it is not clear what causes this effect, the researchers said that alcohol blocks the learning of new information so the brain has more resources it can use to transform other recently learned information from short to longer-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," said study researcher Celia Morgan, of the University of Exeter.
More Alcohol, Better Memory
Researchers also found evidence suggesting a link between the amount of alcohol consumed and memory recall, which has already been hinted by earlier laboratory studies. Those who drank more alcohol were found to perform better at repeating the word-learning task.
"Individuals in the alcohol condition who consumed more alcohol made more correct responses during cued recall the subsequent morning," the researchers wrote in their study, which was published in the Nature journal Scientific Reports on July 24.
"This is similar to previous findings in the laboratory administering three doses of alcohol, where the two highest doses of alcohol caused significantly greater enhancement of memory for information learnt prior to drinking compared with the lowest dose."
Caution Against Drinking Excessive Amounts Of Alcohol
Despite this beneficial effect suggested by the study, researchers said that the well-established negative effects of excessive consumption of alcohol on memory, mental and physical health should also be considered.
In one study published earlier this year, researchers found that people who drink between 14 and 21 units of alcohol per week have increased risk for a type of brain damage called hippocampal atrophy, which affects the brain's hippocampus, compared with teetotalers who do not consume alcohol at all.
Another study also found that in young drinkers, heavy alcohol use can change the electrical activity of the brain.