Is Alcohol the Secret to a Good Memory

For most of us this statement will make little sense on many levels. After all how many of us have woken up the next morning after having one too many drinks and tried to remember what we’d one or said the evening before. Certainly a hangover is never associated with clear recollection and memory boosts.

Yet some researchers in Exeter University have completed a study which suggests that there may actually be a beneficial link between alcohol and memory that we may have just been missing. Their results have led them to believe that people who drink alcohol may actually be better at remembering information than those who haven’t.

The study asked some 88 people to complete a very complicated task based on word learning. After the task was completed the group were split into two groups. The first group were offered alcoholic drinks which t hey drank at an average of just over 4 units each. The second group received no alcohol at all.

The following day the participants repeated the same task and surprisingly the ones who’d drunk alcohol performed much better – mainly because they had remembered more of the task from the day before. Of course the researchers were quick to stress that this doesn’t take away from all the negative effects alcohol has on our physical and mental well being.

So what about the positive effects, the study seems to suggest that drinking in certain situations can aid your memory. In the study those who drank performed significantly better than those who didn’t. Although it should be remembered that this was only a small study and other events could have affected the outcome.

There’s no doubt that alcohol does have a significant effect on our brains in many different ways. In this situation it was suggested that the alcohol blocked accessed to short term memory. This causes the brain to store the information in the parts of the brain responsible for longer term memory instead.

There has been much research into the effect alcohol has on our brains, indeed some of it has been directed at curing problems with alcoholism. One area of research is concerned with the release of endorphins into the brain when people drink. A possible cure has been using drugs to block these pleasurable chemicals being released when people drink. In the UK you can even purchase the drug Selincro from a pharmacy as a treatment of mild alcoholism.

The idea is that the drug blocks the release of these endorphins and as such reprograms the brain and it’s association of pleasure with alcohol. Clinical trials have even reported nearly 80% success rate in curing patients of alcoholism using this method.

It would of course be interesting to see if the drug had any effects on the memory boosting results of the Exeter study. The group did repeat the tests with participants drinking before taking the test and saw no significant difference between the sectors.

Jane Collins