Make mine a double: How an alcoholic drink or two can sharpen up your mind
08:33 GMT, 11 April 2012
It is the perfect excuse to pour yourself another one – alcohol can sharpen the mind.
A study has found that men who enjoy a relaxing drink are actually better at solving brain teasers than those who are stone cold sober.
Not only did the thirstier chaps get more questions right, they were also quicker in delivering the correct responses.
Think it through: A study has found that men who enjoy a relaxing drink are actually better at solving brain teasers than those who are stone cold sober
It is thought that alcohol hinders analytical thinking, allowing creative thoughts that otherwise might be stifled to take root.
This makes it easier to find imaginative solutions to problems.
The amount of alcohol found to spark creative thought was around four units – the equivalent of two pints of beer or two medium glasses of wine. The finding was made by University of Illinois psychologists who set 40 healthy young men a series of brain teasers.
These involved being given three words, such as coin, quick and spoon, and coming up with a fourth word that links all three (in this case the word being silver).
Half drank the equivalent of two pints of beer before doing the tests, the rest carried them out sober.
The drinking group solved nearly 40 per cent more problems than the others and took an average of 12 seconds per question, compared to the 15.5 seconds needed by the sober subjects.
Writing in the journal Consciousness and Cognition, researchers said: ‘The current research represents the first demonstration of alcohol’s effect on creative problem solving.’
Co-author Jennifer Wiley added: ‘We tested what happens when people are slightly merry – not when people drink to extremes.
‘The bottom line is that we think being too focused can blind you to novel possibilities, and a broader, more flexible state of attention is needed for creative solutions to emerge.’
University of Hertfordshire psychologist Professor Richard Wiseman said: ‘It is an interesting idea and does make sense.’
But he added that a good night’s sleep is likely to be just as beneficial.