As a college student, you hear plenty of mixed messages. Partying is fun, but studying is essential. You have a final tomorrow morning, but your hot neighbor is hosting a beer pong tournament. Whether you like a refined glass of red from a vineyard in the Yarra Valley Australia or are happy to chug the cheapest box wine you can find, we all know there’s several negative connotations around drinking. But, fear not, there may actually be some positives! Alcohol consumption may prime particular brain regions to learn and remember better, a new study from the Waggoner Center for Alcohol and Addiction Research at The University of Texas at Austin finds.
Typically, conversations surrounding memory and learning are focused on conscious memory, but Moriwaka’s results published last month in The Journal of Neuroscience found that while the capacity of short-term memory like an acquaintances name or the a definition of a phrase is diminished, alcohol may enhance subconscious ability to learn.
Morikawa’s study, discovered that multiple exposures to ethanol enhances the plasticity of synapses in a crucial area in the mind. It is supportive of current literature in neuroscience that purports an emerging consensus that alcohol and drug addiction is basically a learning and memory disorder.
When we consume alcohol (or inject heroin, or take coke, or drop methamphetamines), our subconscious is changing, learning how to increase consumption. However, it does not stop there. We become more receptive to forming subsconscious memories and customs concerning music, food, even people and social conditions.
In a significant sense, Morikawa proposes that alcoholics are not hooked on the experience of relief or pleasure they get from drinking alcohol; they’re hooked on the constellation of behavioral, environmental and physiological cues which are reinforced when alcohol triggers the release of dopamine in the brain.
“People commonly think of dopamine as a happy transmitter, or a pleasure transmitter, but more accurately it’s a learning transmitter,” says Morikawa. “It strengthens those synapses that are active when dopamine is released.”
Alcohol, in this version, is the enabler. It hijacks the dopaminergic system, and it tells our mind that what we are doing at the moment is rewarding (and thus worth repeating).
One of the things we learn is that drinking alcohol is rewarding. We also learn that going into the pub, chatting with friends, eating certain foods and listening to certain sorts of songs are rewarding. The more frequently we do these things while drinking (and the dopamine which gets released) the more “potentiated” the several synapses become and the more we crave the set of associations and experiences that orbit around the alcohol usage.
Morikawa’s long-term hope is that by understanding the neurobiological underpinnings of addiction better, he can create anti-addiction drugs which would weaken, rather than strengthen, the important synapses. And if he can do that, he would have the ability to erase the subconscious memory of dependence.
Essentially, he is trying to de-wire these learned associations, but this comes with a risk as these drugs could be misused as a brain controlling substance, but with the right guidance these drugs would remove the controlling elements of addictive drugs
However, we do not have to tell you there is no worse feeling than rolling into course really hungover with your mind totally fried and your stomach in a dangerously fragile state. And to be perfectly honest, hangovers kind of make you dumber.
A 2013 study conducted from Keele University found hangovers impair the ability to think clearly and do simple arithmetic. The analysis also found hangovers slow response time; a hungover individual in their 20s has the identical response time as someone in their 40s.
But given both sides of the research we tend to favour the positive factors!
We’re here to give you a bit of great information about alcohol as the academic year begins: When consumed in moderation, alcohol can actually improve your academic performance, so it might be time to find a tutor who is willing to shout a few rounds.
Here’s why you should not hate yourself for ducking by Happy Hour prior to a study session at the library.
1. Alcohol can enhance your creativity.
A hangover may leave you unable to consider a lot of anything, but a drink or two could be just what you will need to get the creative juices flowing.
One University of Illinois study polled 40 guys on their Study habits and discovered a guy was more inventive when he had a blood alcohol content of about .075.
As for real memory capability, participants’ memories were marginally better when they had not had anything to drink.
What you can take away from this: If you have a creative writing task to complete, sinking a few before seeing your English tutor to brainstorm ideas could help! But just a small bit of it. Do not get really drunk whilst studying, text somebody you shouldn’t, fail your test and blame it on us.
2. Alcohol can make you smarter.
As if giving you a spark of inspiration wasn’t sufficient, moderate alcohol consumption may also keep your mind sharp as time passes.
Another study conducted on alcohol in 2011 discovered ethanol helps the nerves in your brain “[protect] against the development of dementia in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.”
Remember, though, it’s about moderation. Binge drinking is not great for your brain at all, in any shape or form.
3. Alcohol may even help you overcome that annoying cold.
Ever noticed you seem to get sick in the most inconvenient times ever? Like when you’ve got an exam right around the corner? Well, whiskey works wonders, especially for those who have a sore throat.
Whether your spent too much time yelling at that super loud Frat party last weekend or you feel a cold coming on, try adding a spoonful of whiskey into a cup of warm water and gargling with it to numb your throat a little. If you would like more of a soothing quality, add a teaspoon of honey into the mix.
Want something on the cooler side that is also packed with Vitamin C? Consider mixing up a whiskey cherry smoothie.
What are you waiting for? Grab your best Yarra Valley wine, finest Irish whiskey or best German beer and begin studying! A few drinks could be the difference between you be an A grade student compared to a B grade student!