Drinking May Actually Improve Memory, Study Finds

CBS Local– Despite many people having experienced the phenomenon that is blacking out from excessive alcohol consumption, being unable to remember events from the night prior, a new study by the University of Exeter in England has found that consuming alcohol may actually improve memory.

Researchers had participants complete a word learning task. Once finished, researchers split them into two groups. One would remain sober for the rest of the night while the other would drink as much as they wanted. The next day, both groups would return to do another word learning task.

Surprisingly, the group that’d drank the night before outperformed those who hadn’t a drop of alcohol.

“Our research not only showed that those who drank alcohol did better when repeating the word-learning task, but that this effect was stronger among those who drank more,” said Celia Morgan, co-author of the study, via the University of Exeter.

Even the researchers were surprised and searching for conclusions to draw. They think it has to do with the hippocampus.

“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,” said Morgan.  “The theory is that the hippocampus – the brain area really important in memory – switches to ‘consolidating’ memories, transferring from short into longer-term memory.”

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