Studying for an exam? Getting ready for a big presentation at work? Capping off your preparation with a drink or two could help you perform better, reports a study by the U.K.'s University of Exeter.
That's right, researchers found that people who drank after a learning exercise remembered more of what they learned than those who didn't drink. Maybe a couple of glasses of wine after a long day of learning isn't such a guilty pleasure, after all.
The study, “Improved memory for information learnt before alcohol use in social drinkers tested in a naturalistic setting," was published in the Nature research journal Scientific Reports.
Eighty-eight social drinkers were given a "word-learning task" before they were split into two groups: one of which drank an average of four alcoholic beverages and the other of which sipped strictly upon non-alcoholic libations.
Not only did the drinkers perform better on the same task the next day, but those who drank the most performed the best.
This may make you scratch your head, as you typically associate alcohol with memory loss -- or at least fogginess -- rather than maintenance. Researchers believe that since your brain doesn't store as many things you learn while you're drinking, it has more of a chance to store the information you learn right before you knock back a margarita.
“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 University of Exeter professor Celia 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.”
The same results have been found in previous studies, but this is the first time people drank (or didn't drink) in their own homes, rather than in a laboratory setting, according to the university.
Struggling to remember everything you talked about in a boring meeting today? Here are some summer cocktails that just might call everything back to mind.