Thursday, April 12, 2012

Can Beer Make Bud Wiser?

OK, maybe not wiser, but better at problem-solving and creative thinking, at least that is what the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) seem to have proven. We already have seen that it can be healthy for your body (after exercise and even in place of food), now we can see how in moderation it can be good for your brain too.

I have not been able to find the actual study, but NY Daily News reports on some points from it and at the Federation of Associations in Behavioral and Brain Sciences (FABBS) web site there is a longer article by Jennifer Wiley, one of the professors involved in the study.

In a word-play study, half were given two pints of beer, the other half no alcohol. Those who got the pints solved 40% more of the problems that their sober counterparts. They also finished the problems faster - in 12 compared to 15.5 seconds.

It seems this only applies to this type of creative problem, and not memory though. “We found at 0.07 blood alcohol, people were worse at working memory tasks, but they were better at creative problem-solving tasks,” says Wiley. The consumption of alcohol likely helped participants by removing focus, focus that at times is good but for innovation can be a hindrance.

Of course, the caveat is to be responsible, and we can't drink at work. But I am sure we can all recall a happy hour or other work outing where the addition of a tasty beverage or two led to an 'a-ha' moment with a great new idea or solution.