Alcohol ‘Sharpens Men's Minds' Claim Scientists

The Huffington Post UK  |  By Posted: 11/04/2012 12:05 Updated: 11/04/2012 12:20

Alcohol Men

Scientists have found a novel use for beer goggles – they make men brainier.

According to researchers from the University of Illinois in Chicago, men who enjoy a tipple (or two) are better at solving brain-teasing quizzes and coming up with imaginative solutions to problems, compared to their sober counterparts.

Although this theory goes against popular belief that alcohol hinders analytical thinking and stifles rational thoughts, scientists discovered that creative thoughts begin to flourish after four units are consumed (the equivalent of two pints of beer).

The study involved 40 healthy male participants who were given a series of brain-teasers to tackle. Each were given three words, such as ‘coin’, ‘quick’ and ‘spoon’ and asked to suggest a fourth word that link the words together (for example, ‘silver’).

Half of the participants drank two pints of beer before taking on the word challenge and the rest took part with a sober mind.

The study discovered that those who consumed alcohol and had a blood alcohol level of 0.07 or higher, solved 40% more problems than their teetotal contenders and took 12 seconds to complete the task compared to 15.5 seconds by the sober lot.

“We found at 0.07 blood alcohol, people were worse at working memory tasks, but they were better at creative problem-solving tasks,” says cognitive psychologist Jennifer Wiley, who led the study, reports the Federation of Associations in Behavioural and Brain Sciences (FABBS).

“We have this assumption, that being able to focus on one part of a problem or having a lot of expertise is better for problem solving,” says Wiley. “But that’s not necessarily true. Innovation may happen when people are not so focused. Sometimes it’s good to be distracted.”

Sometimes the really creative stuff comes out when you’re having a glass of wine over dinner, or when you’re taking a shower.”

The findings were published in the Consciousness and Cognition journal.

This study follows previous research by Purdue University which found that red wine is good for the heart as it blocks fat cells from forming.

But before you order another round, find out whether another glass of red is a friend... or foe.

Loading Slideshow...
  • Brain-Boosting Foods

  • Avocado

    Avocados are a great source of 'healthy fats' as well as a good blood circulation booster. This is important when it comes to brain power, as it enhances the blood flow to the brain, maintaining healthy brain function.

  • Oily Fish

    The essential omega-3 fatty acids, found in oily fish like sardines, herring, trout and mackerel, as well as walnut oil and flaxseeds (linseeds) - are high in Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a fatty acid crucial to maintaining a healthy nervous system. Low DHA levels have been linked to a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and memory loss. Fish also contains iodine, which is known to improve mental clarity. For brain and heart health, eat two servings of fish weekly.

  • Whole grains

    Whole grains improve circulation and help regulate glucose levels in the blood as the steadier the glucose levels, the easier it is to concentrate. This is why it's important to eat breakfast in the morning, as it not only revs up the metabolism, but keeps your sugar levels balanced as well as protecting against diabetes and heart disease.

  • Sugar

    Sugar is the brain's preferred fuel source, however before you reach for the table sugar, it's glucose that your body needs. The body metabolises glucose from the sugars and carbohydrates in food. That's why a glass of something sweet offers a short-term boost to memory, thinking processes, and mental ability. Too much sugar on the other hand, can result in impaired memory, so go easy on the sweet stuff and consume enough to boost your brain power.

  • Caffeine

    Like sugar, caffeine perks up the brain but if you have too much, it can have negative effect on your mental state. Found in coffee, chocolate, energy drinks, and some medications, caffeine gives you that unmistakable wake-up feeling. But beware, the effects are short-term and if you overdo it, the brain can go into overdrive and make you more jittery than sharp thinking.

  • Nuts And Seeds

    Nuts and seeds are great sources of antioxidant vitamin E, which is associated with less cognitive decline as you age. A good intake of vitamin E is linked to preventing poor memory. Nuts are a great source of vitamin E along with leafy green vegetables, seeds, eggs, brown rice and whole grains. Pumpkin seeds are especially good for boosting brain power, as a handful a day is all you need to get your recommended daily amount of zinc, vital for enhancing memory and thinking skills.

  • Blueberries

    Blueberries and strawberries contain antioxidants, which are thought to protect brain neurons from damage, build communication receptors between each brain cell, and flush out waste. They also help protect against age-related diseases like Alzheimer's. Blackberries are also a great brain booster, as it contains Vitamin C which has long been thought to have the power to increase mental agility.

  • Sage

    An unlikely contender, the humble sage has long had a reputation for improving memory. Although its recommended to try sage oils, try and sprinkle some sage into your diet.

  • Vitamins

    Folic acid and vitamin B12 help prevent homocysteine from building up in the body, which is higher in those with Alzheimer's. Vitamin B, C, E, beta-carotene, and magnesium are also good vitamins to stock up on when looking to boost brain power.

  • Tomato

    Tomato's contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that helps protect against the kind of free radical damage to cells which occurs in the development of dementia, particularly Alzheimer's.

  • Broccoli

    A great source of vitamin K, broccoli which is known to enhance cognitive function and improve brainpower.


FOLLOW UK LIFESTYLE