Drinking After Learning Can Boost Memory, Says Study

You might have heard a lot of times that too much intake of alcoholic beverages can take a serious toll on your health. Several studies have shown how alcohol affects the brain and body. Some studies have even shown the depressant effects of alcohol. Despite its bad reputation, alcohol plays an important role when it comes to our mental health, hints a new study.

Drinking can help improve your memory, claims the novel study by scientists at the University of Exeter in the UK. Consuming alcohol immediately after studying information may help better retain the information in our memory, claimed the study.

If the findings of the study are to be believed then people who drink alcohol after learning something new are better at remembering what they have learnt.

In order to determine whether alcohol can really improve memory, the researchers recruited 88 social drinkers and gave them a word-learning task to complete. The participants, 31 men and 57 women aged 18 to 53, were randomly divided into two groups and told to either drink as much as they like afterwards (the average was four units) or not to drink at all.

The following day, all volunteers repeated the same task, and those who had consumed four units of alcohol on average were able to perform better, recounting more of what they had learned.

However the researchers stressed that this small positive effect of alcohol consumption should not nullify the well-established harmful effects of alcohol on memory and mental and physical health.

“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, professor at the University of Exeter.

“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,” she said.

In another task, where the participants looked at images on a screen and recalled the images once after consuming alcohol and again the following day, the results did not show any notable differences in memory performance after alcohol drinking.

The study results were published in the journal Scientific Reports.