Drinking Alcohol Can Boost Memory Retention

There is no doubt that alcohol consumption has many unhealthy consequences including liver damage. However, one small study published in Nature1 finds the opposite effect. Researchers find that alcohol consumption is linked with better memory retention.

In this study, researchers find that individuals who drank alcohol were better at remembering information. On the other hand, the recent findings are no way to outweigh the health risks associated with alcohol consumption. But, occasional drinks, especially after a long study for an exam, may be beneficial.

How Did Alcohol Helped In Boosting Memory Retention?

During the study, eighty-eight social drinkers were randomly assigned to a group of either drinkers or nondrinkers. Then the subjects are composed of 31 males and 57 females. All were social drinkers.

Then, the researchers gave the subjects a memory task. After completing the tasks, those in the drinking group were asked to drink alcohol. During the next day, the subjects were tested. Those who consumed alcohol after completing the task remember better than those who did not drink.

Researchers say that the explanation alcohol help retains memory better is it’s blocking the brain from learning new information.

Celia Morgan, a University of Exeter professor says in an interview;

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.

Who May Benefit This Effect?

Well, in terms of people who can benefit this positive effect, students studying for an exam. Take note that, it is important to study first and study well prior to drinking in order to enjoy the benefit of better memory retention.

It is worth noting that alcohol blocks formation of new memories. Therefore, never attempt to drink prior to studying. Additionally, drinking too much can lead to a blackout2, 3, which means no memories existed in the first place. So, there’s a danger there and it is worth keeping in mind.

Therefore, social and occasional drinks may be fine and individuals who do this can enjoy the benefits. The researchers add the reason alcohol helps memory retention of learned information prior to drinking is due to the effect of alcohol on the brain’s hippocampus. This is an area of the brain responsible for consolidating newly learned information into memories.

While this is beneficial, researchers in another study4 that even moderate drinking is bad for the brain.

Alcohol consumption, even at moderate levels, is associated with adverse brain outcomes including hippocampal atrophy. These results support the recent reduction in alcohol guidance in the UK and question the current limits recommended in the US.

Lower Quantities of Alcohol May Be Helpful

As the researchers suggest that alcohol in much lower quantities could enhance formation of memories. This has been proven in a previous study5 by researchers at the University of Texas in Austin back in 2011.

This recent study in Nature simply repeats the results in a real-life situation on social drinkers. Moreover, this study also shows that we still have a lot to discover on the effects of alcohol in the brain and body.

Safer Means of Boosting Memory

If you think alcohol is the easiest means of boosting memory function, you’re wrong. There are far safer means of improving cognitive function including eating the right kinds of foods, regular exercise, consumption of healthy fats and consistent meditation or mindfulness practice.

Not only these ways can boost memory function but also helpful in maintaining better brain health. Even regular consumption of coffee is good for brain health. Hence, there are many safe options when it comes to maintaining and improving cognitive function.

Instead of focusing on drinking alcohol as a means of improving memory, explore the safe ones.

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