Alcohol Aids Subconscious Memory
Some of us might consider it a blessing when we "time travel" (forget what we did whilst drunk); but, apparently, those blackouts aren't as hazy as we thought. A new study from the University of Texas at Austin has shown that consuming alcohol enhances subconscious memory and the ability to learn.
Under repeated exposure to alcohol, the synaptic plasticity--the ability of the brain to absorb new information and form new memories--in certain areas of the brain increases. Our subconscious remembers information about the environment and behaviors during the time under the influence. Furthermore, alcohol causes the release of dopamine in the brain, which causes feelings of happiness and pleasure, and which also solidifies the desire to repeat the activities that our subconscious has just experienced.
Because of this combination of enhanced learning and happiness, we learn that drinking alcohol is not only pleasurable but also that the other situations that go along with drinking alcohol, such as being with friends or going to a bar, are also rewarding.
The study's lead author, Hitoshi Morikawa, plans to use this information to understand how the dopamine system leads to alcohol addiction. He hopes to develop anti-addiction drugs and "reverse the mind controlling aspects of addictive drugs."
As much as we love a good night out on the town with friends, we kinda hope that Mr. Morikawa gets on that anti-addiction drug stat. We also hope that he formulates one that reverses the "mind controlling aspects of addictive" sex with commitment phobes and another one for the "mind controlling aspects" of pizza. You know, if he has time after he's done pinning down the alcohol one...no pressure, Hitoshi.
Source: University of Texas at Austin (2011, April 12). Can alcohol help the brain remember? Repeated ethanol exposure enhances synaptic plasticity in key brain area, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110412101627.htm