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Alcohol Helps the Brain Remember, Says New Study
April 12, 2011 8:25 AM   Subscribe

According to Science Daily a New Study (done on mice) found drinking alcohol primes certain areas of our brain to learn and remember better. When we drink alcohol our subconscious is learning to consume more. But it doesn't stop there. We become more receptive to forming subsconscious memories and habits with respect to food, music, even people and social situations.

"Finally, we found that ethanol-treated mice display enhanced place conditioning induced by the psychostimulant cocaine. These data suggest that repeated ethanol experience may promote the formation of drug-associated memories by enhancing synaptic plasticity of NMDARs in dopamine neurons."
posted by Blake (41 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm sorry, but didn't we already know this?

Or am I missing something...?
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 8:30 AM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm curious whether anyone knows how this relates to research I remember reading about a few years back. As I recall, it stated that studying while mildly drunk or stoned helped a person's test results later...but only if the person is in the same "influenced" mental state when taking the test as the were while studying for it.

On preview: Yeah, what Bathtub Bobsled said.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:31 AM on April 12, 2011


Clearly the answer is to bring back mandatory bowls of wine for university lectures.
posted by The Whelk at 8:32 AM on April 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


This is what will save Four Loko. Study aid!
posted by ob at 8:35 AM on April 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


Becoming a Functional Alcoholic
A Guide for You

posted by lemuring at 8:39 AM on April 12, 2011


Becoming a Functional Alcoholic
A Guide for You Your Mouse.

posted by Ahab at 8:41 AM on April 12, 2011 [11 favorites]


Clearly the answer is to bring back mandatory bowls of wine for university lectures.
posted by The Whelk


I'm told that in the UK, Elevenses would include a small glass of sherry for the A classes.
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:42 AM on April 12, 2011


Now this is the point I tried to make at my intervention...I'm not an alcoholic, I'm an AVID LEARNER. But did anybody listen? NO.

"There to support me" my ass.
posted by PlusDistance at 8:48 AM on April 12, 2011 [12 favorites]


It also primes the areas of my brain responsible for tagging memories as deeply, deeply shameful. Not a good combination.
posted by nasreddin at 8:53 AM on April 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


We need mouse [imbibing] to live!
posted by maudlin at 9:01 AM on April 12, 2011


It's an interesting result, but I'd like more verification, so if anybody needs me I'll be in the scotch cabinet conducting a double blind-stinking-drunk trial.
posted by cortex at 9:01 AM on April 12, 2011 [13 favorites]


Is this why so many people "only smoke when they drink"?
posted by hermitosis at 9:12 AM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is this why so many people "only smoke when they drink"?

I couldn't say, as I'm only SMOKIN HOT when I drink

jk im always smokin hot
posted by Greg Nog at 9:14 AM on April 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


This study fails to mention that drunk mice are jerks, and can say some very very hurtful things.
posted by Pickman's Next Top Model at 9:14 AM on April 12, 2011 [19 favorites]


I view being drunk as an exercise in empiricism, and actually informs my conscious view of the world rather than my subconscious.

"Ok, know I know for certain that was a stupid thing to say to a girl,"

or "Piggybacking that man who is heavier man than me -- I always assumed it was dangerous -- I now know that it is. ARRARRGAGRGGHGHAGH!!"

If there is an effect on subconscious memory effect, it applies during the hangover. The sincere promise "I'll never do this again" is contextual. The solemness of that promise is subconscious, never recalled properly in a post-hangover state.

That's where the transfer-appropriate process Bathtub Bobsled refers to comes in!
posted by TheAlarminglySwollenFinger at 9:20 AM on April 12, 2011


Alcohol certainly makes my brain work better in many ways but so very much worse in other ways. When I used alcohol I used it to blind myself to certain realities. It worked REALLY well. I was able to study, learn, work, etc. better. The problem was that I needed more and more alcohol to do those things properly. Of course this didn't work because it eventually made me quite noticeablly drunk. I was able to continue this for far longer than should be reasonable. Once I got past all of the drinking and things that made me drink, I was able to do all of those things that I thought I needed help with even better than I thought I could before - altered or not.

Alcohol can make many of us learn better, but getting to the issues that bring us to extreme alcohol or drug use and then working through them is so much more powerful in my experience.

From the first linked article:
"Alcohol diminishes our ability to hold on to pieces of information like your colleague's name, or the definition of a word, or where you parked your car this morning. But our subconscious is learning and remembering too, and alcohol may actually increase our capacity to learn, or 'conditionability,' at that level."
I don't want to learn more while forgetting where my car is parked or the definition of a word. I tried that and it didn't work nearly as well as what I'm doing now.

I should also add that I'm not afraid of alcohol or other drugs and I have no issue with those who use them. I'm speaking only to my own experiences here. If drinking actually makes you learn better (which it might just) then more power to you.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 9:20 AM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


You can't use mice for this kind of study. They're notorious boozehounds and also liars.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:21 AM on April 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


And here I was thinking I need to do sudokus to keep my mind limber for old age...

*pours away breakfast orange juice and fills glass with delicious, brain-improving Ardbeg Corryvreckan*
posted by Hairy Lobster at 9:28 AM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just gave some alcohol to my mouse, and now my cursor doesn't move. Thanks, Science!
posted by Old'n'Busted at 9:29 AM on April 12, 2011 [10 favorites]


> In the United States, elevenses refers to the now extinct custom of the late-morning whiskey break.[3]

[sadface]
posted by ardgedee at 9:31 AM on April 12, 2011


Is this some very fancy language to explain "beer googles"? "The more I drink the better you look" among other things. "Hey Minnie, come over to my bar stool, I got some cheese and you are lookin' hot!"
posted by mermayd at 9:43 AM on April 12, 2011


Making those "I'm thinker than you drunk I am" bumper stickers oddly prescient
posted by Mchelly at 9:47 AM on April 12, 2011


In the United States, elevenses refers to the now extinct custom of the late-morning whiskey break. [sadface]

No fear, there are some who keeps the custom. And the twelveses and oneses and twoses etc..
posted by stbalbach at 9:51 AM on April 12, 2011


http://xkcd.com/323/ ?
posted by yifes at 9:53 AM on April 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is nothing new. I mean that literally—this is not a novel result. NMDA-mediated LTP in the striatum has been associated with addictive substances before. It doesn't matter whether it's alcohol or cocaine or heroin, because this phenomenon is common to addictive substances in general.

Addiction is a learning process. Your brain learns to associate certain behaviors and stimuli with reward. It's a very specific kind of learning, and it does not generalize to traditional knowledge-based learning. Rest assured that alcohol does not help you to learn anything other than to drink more alcohol.
posted by dephlogisticated at 10:11 AM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


So as a graduate student, does this paper make my weekly beer/grappa purchases tax deductible?

Its a tool I use to help me work... honest.
posted by Slackermagee at 10:16 AM on April 12, 2011


Sounds more like http://xkcd.com/882/.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:23 AM on April 12, 2011


I don't want to learn more while forgetting where my car is parked or the definition of a word. I tried that and it didn't work nearly as well as what I'm doing now.

Interesting enough, some of these conscious recall tasks may be easily augmented with technology. Think smart-phone assisted car finding apps and facial recognition enabled ubiquitous computing.

In other words, I eagerly await the booze-soaked post-singularity world. It will be glorious.
posted by formless at 10:26 AM on April 12, 2011


I was thinking it sounded more like http://xkcd.com/323/
posted by Reverend John at 10:30 AM on April 12, 2011


Imagining a "Mousebook" networking site with music playlists, games, bars, etc.
posted by effluvia at 10:31 AM on April 12, 2011


alcohol, both a memory enhancer and eraser
posted by caddis at 10:32 AM on April 12, 2011


It's like a thermos!
posted by taz at 10:34 AM on April 12, 2011


alcohol does not help you to learn anything other than to drink more alcohol.

Well, I don't need help with that.
posted by octobersurprise at 10:39 AM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's like a thermos!

A thermos full of Martinis!
posted by chavenet at 10:59 AM on April 12, 2011


A thermos full of Martinis!

Not for long.




...




An empty thermos.
posted by fuq at 11:08 AM on April 12, 2011


I'm curious whether anyone knows how this relates to research I remember reading about a few years back. As I recall, it stated that studying while mildly drunk or stoned helped a person's test results later...but only if the person is in the same "influenced" mental state when taking the test as the were while studying for it.

When I had to go to booze-school they called it state dependent learning. I'm pretty sure that's why I can only play pool or darts when I'm stinky drunk.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 11:11 AM on April 12, 2011


Which explains why I like to drink while doing homework. This explains why I shouldn't drink while requesting more information in doing my homework. Also this.
posted by Monkey0nCrack at 11:59 AM on April 12, 2011


When we drink alcohol our subconscious is learning to consume more. But it doesn't stop there. We become more receptive to forming subsconscious memories and habits with respect to food, music, even people and social situations.

Huh. I wonder what subconscious memories mice have?
posted by nickyskye at 12:15 PM on April 12, 2011


nickyskye: I wonder what subconscious memories mice have?


"Cheese....squeak...cheese...squeak...cheese...squeak..."
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:28 PM on April 12, 2011


So, basically we need to drink more and do coke to be smarter.


OMG, Charlie Sheen really is WINNING!
posted by 1000monkeys at 6:25 PM on April 12, 2011


hahaha will start drinkin' just now!!
posted by marcobergilleni at 7:27 PM on April 12, 2011


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