As part of the study, 88 social drinkers were split into two groups at random and given a world-learning task.
The study's participants were 31 men and 57 women, aged 18 to 53.
The researchers don't think that alcohol improves memory - in fact, just the opposite: because alcohol makes it hard to retain new information, your memory focuses its efforts on retaining what it has already learned. They were given a word learning task. One would remain sober for the rest of the night while the other would drink as much as they wanted. The researchers stressed the fact that the positive effects are limited, and there are a wide range of negative effects associated with heavy drinking.
We've been there, so we were surprised to hear about a new study from the University of Exeter that basically says people who drink are better at remembering what they learned.
Though, the causes of this effects are not fully understood but the prime explanation is that alcohol blocks the learning of new information due to which, the brain has more resources available to lay down other recently learned information into long-term memory.
The following day both groups convened, and researchers quickly established that those who had consumed an average of four alcohol units the night before were more capable of regurgitating the information they had learned the day before than their teetotal counterparts. The theory states that the hippocampus, which is the most important area of the brain that is related to memory, transfers from short into longer-term memory by switching to "consolidating" memories. People who drank on the first day remembered what they were taught more vividly.
A second task was also conducted where the participants had to recall images given on the screen.
The findings correspond to earlier studies which found a similar connection between moderate drinking and improved memory, though all previous experiments were conducted in laboratory settings.