That Which Does Not Kill Brain Cells Only Makes Them Stronger?

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Great news from the world of science and just in time for a three-day weekend holiday, too! According to Scientific American, researchers in New Zealand and Ohio report that drinking beer can enhance memory and cognition. To wit:

You may be hard-pressed to recall events after a night of binge drinking, but a new report suggests that low to moderate alcohol consumption may actually enhance memory.

"There are human epidemiological data of others indicating that mild [to] moderate drinking may paradoxically improve cognition in people compared to abstention," says Maggie Kalev, a research fellow in molecular medicine and pathology at the University of Auckland in New Zealand and a co-author of an article in The Journal of Neuroscience describing results of a study she and other researchers performed on rats. "This is similar to a glass of wine protecting against heart disease, however the mechanism is different."

Okay, so the study was done with rats. But rats are mammals. People are mammals. Suggestive? Why not try experimenting for yourselves?

Whole SciAm article here.

NEXT: The Passion of Joschka Fischer

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  1. Ron,

    I love this new information, but my only problem is that they usually define ‘binge drinking’ as the same, or less, volume that I associate with “low to moderate alcohol consumption.”

    It is rougher when I don’t start counting until after the bill arrives . . .

  2. In the name of science, I volunteer for the human trials.

  3. Damn, I was going to detox myself a little for a vacation next week.

    So much for that!

  4. I actually had a friend who obtained two BA’s (education and CompSci) and one MA (CompSec) while drunk. I don’t mean just on the weekends, I mean that he was in a mild state of inebriation roughly 80% of the time during college. I have always suspected this was the cause of his fantastic memory recall.

  5. Ah. So this is what is meant when people say that they “experimented with alcohol.”

    The More You Know

  6. Oh thank God!

    CB

  7. Warren,

    Thanks, I’m well on my way to being a fucking genius.

  8. BEST. REASON. DRINKING GAME. EVER.

  9. *ahem*

    For a magazine called “Reason”…

  10. Now we know!

    And Knowing is Half the Battle!

  11. Totally off subjust but there is an english guy in my office on the phone with someone and I just heard him say “well according to the mean aggrigate your supposed to live for another 28 years so I wouldn’t roll the dice too much”.

  12. No wonder I am SUCH A FUCKING GENIUS!

  13. Kwix,

    I had a cop tell me once about how it is not uncommon to pull over what he referred to as “professional alcoholics”. These people would be driving perfectly well, pass every sobriety test and then proceed to blow some obscene blood alcohol content on a breathalyzer. They basically drank so much that it didn’t affect their ability to function anymore. I asked him “then why the hell arrest them if they still can function at that high of a level?” He didn’t really have an answer to that beyond indignant platitudes about the dangers of drinking and driving. But, I suspect your friend is not alone. I think most of the myth about not being able to be productive while drunk is put out by teetotalers who get drunk once a year and are not surprisingly completely debilitated by the experience.

    I sometimes frankly don’t see how I get through life sober. If alsohol didn’t have so many caleries, I suspect I would be more like your friend and probably better off for it.

  14. I always knew this to be the case, especially after drinking cases.

    On a sad note, I doubt this research will receive even 1/2 the attention in the MSM that a study showing that infusing rats with the equivalent of 15,000 joints per day increases their risk of lung cancer [by .5 %] would get.

    And finally, it seems to me that this could help explain why GWB forgot the whole lesson of Vietnam after becoming a teetotaler.

  15. “If alcohol didn’t have so many calories…”

    WAIT!! There’s calories in alcohol? DAMMIT!! That explains a shitload…

  16. Three day weekend? Are you hanging out in Canada again?

  17. lunchstealer:

    You say maize. We say Columbus Day.

  18. You may be hard-pressed to recall events after a night of binge drinking….

    In an ideal world maybe, but unfortunately, that wouldn’t be the case in TWC’s world.

  19. I mean that he was in a mild state of inebriation roughly 80% of the time during college

    My grandfather was like that his entire life. Carried a flask. Course he didn’t get any degrees, pay any taxes, or support his family. But he was a talented furniture refinisher, a great dancer, funnier than heck, a smoking hot poker player, and everybody loved him except the fish, who trembled at the mention of his name or the sound of his tackle box opening.

  20. All our founding fathers, astronauts, and World Series heroes have been either drunk or on cocaine.

  21. Okay, brain. You don’t like me, and I don’t like you, but let’s get through this thing and then I can continue killing you with beer.

  22. Woo-hoo! I am so smart! S-M-R-T!

  23. Robert Graves in his World War I memior “Goodbye to All That” talks about going weeks in the trenches and surviving the stress through drinking a bottle of wiskey a day. There were a lot of “bottle a day” commanders in the trenches. The stress of being shot at or being in danger is so great, I could definitely see where you wouldn’t notice the effects of alcohol beyond it taking the edge off and allowing you to think straight.

  24. This all makes sense…except for the part about this three day weekend…as if that applies to anyone outside of government, banking and education. Oh wait, I guess that is half the population.

  25. I actually had a friend who obtained two BA’s (education and CompSci) and one MA (CompSec) while drunk. I don’t mean just on the weekends, I mean that he was in a mild state of inebriation roughly 80% of the time during college.

    I got a couple of degrees myself (cum laude, thanks for asking) while fairly stoned. I did take a year off when I started law school, but other than that, I was buzzed off and on throughout my (ahem) higher education.

  26. It’s typical government mandated holiday crap. Columbus actually sailed into sight of land on October 12 but CONgress says we are to celebrate that on the second Monday in October so we can all have a three day weekend.

    Fire up the RV’s boys, let’s get out there on the road and clog it up so nobody can get anywhere.

  27. And speaking of the Founding Fathers, I blogged this and I love it:

    …..in 1787, two days before their work was done, the 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention adjourned to a tavern for some rest, and according to the bill they drank 54 bottles of Madeira, 60 bottles of claret, 8 of whiskey, 22 of port, 8 of hard cider and 7 bowls of punch so large that, it was said, ducks could swim around in them.

    Then they went back to work and finished founding the new Republic. Note the 55 delegates and 54 bottles of Madeira. Which founder was slacking?

    The rest here if you don’t mind me shilling for Big Wine (okay little whine).

  28. Sixstring,

    Oh, yeah. Banks and government types get that day off. Too used to the tech world, where they will raid all other holidays to make that Wednesday 4th into a five-day-weekend.

  29. > Why not try experimenting for yourselves?

    Way ahead of you.

  30. The explains why moderate drinking was part of the original symosiums and many religious rites. It helped people absorbe the lessons.

  31. The explains why moderate drinking was part of the original symosiums and many religious rites. It helped people absorbe the lessons.

    Which in turn explains why immoderate drinking–and the lessons that repeated wearing of beer goggles should teach us–seldom does…

  32. “Woo-hoo! I am so smart! S-M-R-T!”

    In certain Slavic languages, “smrt” means “death.”

  33. “If alcohol didn’t have so many calories…”

    WAIT!! There’s calories in alcohol? DAMMIT!! That explains a shitload…

    Actualy, the way I understand it, the calories in alcohol are not the same as calories in a twinkie.

    Take Vodka,(but leave me some),40%alcohol, 60%water, you will often hear the people say that hard alcohol has more calories in than beer or than so and so food.

    However, how do they measure calories? By burning a piece of food and seeing how much the burn raises the temperature of a sq. cm of water. (1 calorie= amount of energy required to raise 1 sq. cm of water 1 degree celicus).
    That being said a pine 2×4 would contain a shit load of calories but you can eat as much pine as you want and you probably wont gain a pound.

    Pure alcohol eventually digests into vitamin c, which is something a body can use directly for energy. There are number of substances that the body can use for energy like certain simple sugars etc…, however where the sugars if not used will turn into fat vitamin c will not.

    So calories from alcohol will not give you a belly, thats why you have the expresion beer belly, and not vodka or whiskey belly, beer has calories from the hops which digest into sugars and can get turned into fat if you dont use them, the alchol in the beer will turn into vit.C. and get burned up or be pissed out.

    The first issue to watch out for, is vitamin C in the blood will be burned for energy before other sources like sugar, so if u drink whiskey and have a twinky your body might use up the energy from the alcohol and store the twinky energy as fat. Second, alcohol makes you hungry so you often eat more after drinking then you usually would.

    Now you know, go drink,

    P.S. corrections and clarifications are welcome

  34. Correction 1: That being said a pine 2×4 would contain a shit load of calories but you can eat as much pine as you want and you probably wont gain a pound.

    Termites can digest wood. I can’t. Never bought a termite a drink, so don’t know the effect of alcohol on termites. Weird tangent here. Ever see a drunk termite?

    Correction, or clarification 2: Pure alcohol eventually digests into vitamin c.

    Huh? Please cite a reference. If true, why am I popping Vitamin C when I could be drinking to stave off illness? I just thought the alcohol in the bloodstream killed off any nasty buggies.

  35. Thanks for this informations.

    Great news!

  36. oops i mean acetic acid, not vitamin c, I read this a while ago and didnt have my daily dose of alcohol to jog the memory, so you are absolutely right.

    …..
    The first step in the metabolism of alcohol is the oxidation of ethanol to acetaldehyde catalyzed by alcohol/dehydrogenase containing the coenzyme NAD+. The acetaldehyde is further oxidized to acetic acid and finally CO2 and water through the citric acid cycle. A number of metabolic effects from alcohol are directly linked to the production of an excess of both NADH and acetaldehyde.

    CH3CH2OH + NAD+ —> CH3CH=O + NADH + H+

    http://www.elmhurst.edu/~chm/vchembook/642alcoholmet.html

  37. I swithched from beer and whiskey to just whisky and lost my 35 pound basketball belly. At first I also avoided carbs, but now I’m eating pretty much like before and it is staying off. Val, and my dad, are dead on about whiskey calories.

  38. “Termites can digest wood. I can’t. Never bought a termite a drink, so don’t know the effect of alcohol on termites. Weird tangent here. Ever see a drunk termite?”

    Termite walks into a bar and asks, “Is the bartender here?”

    Thanks folks. I’m here all week. Don’t forget to tip your waitresses … etc., etc.

  39. People really need to stop dropping the “drinking is good for your heart” thing. There’s good evidence that the studies which show this lumped teetotalers with people who recently quit drinking, skewing the results:
    See here

  40. Prohibition was a terrible mistake.

  41. Swim, guess they missed that study of old fossils where the teetotalers and the alkies both had much less life expectancy than moderate drinkers at age 65. I’m too lazy to find it for you but it is a relatively recent study and was fairly comprehensive.

    And even my doctor, Miss Julie Ann, who spent quality education hours at Loma Linda (and you know how those Adventists feel about alcohol) told me that a glass of red wine a day is good for your heart. The only dubious advice she ever gave me was to suggest that one was ALL you need. I said, what good is that?

  42. This has been known for quite some time.

    “Well you see, Norm, it’s like this… A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo and when the herd is hunted, it is the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are killed first. This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole, because the general speed and health of the whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members. In much the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as the slowest brain cells. Now, as we know, excessive drinking of alcohol kills brain cells. But naturally, it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first. In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine. And that, Norm, is why you always feel smarter after a few beers.”

  43. just in time for a three-day weekend holiday

    huh?

    What holiday? Must be one of those bullshit ones that only government employees get off.

  44. db, which used to stand for Dog Brother. For not being a holiday there sure was a mess of traffic Friday night. It took the Flooze an hour and a half to get from Fullerton to Imperial Highway at which point she called and said, I am turning around and going back home. I told her that was fine, that I’d come pick up my nephew on Saturday AM. It normally would take 40 minutes to get to our place from hers at 9:30 on a Friday night.

    Thanks Arnie, glad to see that 140 billion you plan to spend has helped the traffic so got dam much. [turns and spits]

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