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Any evidence to suggest alcohol could improve brain function for short periods?

  1. Dec 15, 2011 #1
    The only evidence I have is from introspection, but it's happened so often I'm wondering if it's a more common experience.

    The day after drinking heavily my mind is not sluggish. It's lightning fast. I'm extremely sharp, I talk very quickly, produce more jokes, see though irrational reasoning, and, as more of an aside, am extremely happy. More happy than I ever am despite my physical self feeling like puking.

    Any research to support this or have you personally had a similar experience?
     
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  3. Dec 15, 2011 #2

    Pythagorean

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    that's really just personal anecdote; not much to say about it...
     
  4. Dec 15, 2011 #3

    Ryan_m_b

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    No, there is no evidence of this. If you go to pubmed and try a search of alcohol effects you find countless articles on the negative effects and even those that look at the social effects show no real advantages. One thing ethanol is famous for doing is lowering inhibitions, this can often lead to easier social interaction which may explain your observation of "producing more jokes."

    I'd also question how you know all this, you may think that you are being lightening fast and capable of seeing through irrationality but you could just be deluded based on the alcohol you have consumed. Alternatively it could be that the next day, when you are no longer drunk, you notice more what you can do when sober and wrongly associate this with the alcohol.
     
  5. Dec 15, 2011 #4
    Found something similar
    http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/160/3/240.short


    Kids who visit PF better read the last line carefully though.
     
  6. Dec 15, 2011 #5
    Are you sure?

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19022829: "In adults, light to moderate alcohol consumption is associated with lower risks for heart disease, diabetes, and mortality. [...] Alcohol consumption in moderation might reduce the risk of developing physical disability in older adults in good health but not in those in poor health."

    Also this: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18937903

    And that's only from a very quick search.
     
  7. Dec 15, 2011 #6

    Ryan_m_b

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    I was referring specifically to the OPs claim that after a night if drinkinghe exhibits increased cognitive faculties.
     
  8. Dec 15, 2011 #7
    OK, then I revert back to the paper in mishrashubham's post, which begins "Previous studies have shown that light-to-moderate drinkers have better cognitive function than nondrinkers":

    1. Elias PK, Elias MF, D’Agnostino RB, et al. Alcohol consumption and cognitive performance in the Framingham Heart Study. Am J Epidemiol 1999;150:580–9.

    2. Mukamal KJ, Longstreth WT, Mittleman MA, et al. Alcohol consumption and subclinical findings on magnetic resonance imaging of the brain in older adults. The Cardiovascular Health Study. Stroke 2001;32:1939–46.

    3. Zuccala G, Onder G, Pedone C, et al. Dose-related impact of alcohol consumption on cognitive function in advanced age: results of a multicenter survey. Alcohol Clin Exp Res 2001;25: 1743–8

    4. Kalmijn S, van Boxtel MPJ, Verschuren MWM, et al. Cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption in relation to cognitive performance in middle age. Am J Epidemiol 2002;156:936–44.

    5. Ruitenberg A, van Swieten JC, Witteman JCM, et al. Alcohol consumption and risk of dementia: the Rotterdam Study. Lancet 2002;359:281–6.

    My real point is that one may find almost anything on PubMed, if one searches hard enough. There's always a case study, a contrarian finding, or just someone who is ahead of the curve.
     
  9. Dec 15, 2011 #8

    Pythagorean

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    Have you read and analyzed those papers? Their titles reveal no conclusion. Even if they did, you'd have to read the paper to know how significant it was, or if there's confounding variables, or if they suggest that maybe the epidemiology need to be further investigated.

    You can't just post 10 paper titles with one sentence that says 'these support my conclusion'. You still have to use reason for your arguments: premise, premise, conclusion.

    Papers are used to show that the premises are correct. Do we have a molecular or evolutionary story why alcohol might be a benefit? Possibly it's only social (we need to do the epidemiology to know).

    I'm not going to read all ten of your papers to answer these questions, and presumably, you haven't actually read all ten of them either. Otherwise, you'd be focusing on the ideas and the arguments, not the authority of peer-review.
     
  10. Dec 15, 2011 #9

    bobze

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    The good effects of alcohol consumption come from intake of antioxidants, like those found in red wines, which do have some cardiovascular and cerebral protective effects. Notice then, that all those papers are suggesting that light or moderate intake of certain types of alcoholic beverages (high in antioxidants) can have beneficial roles in health.


    However, the OP appears to be discussing recovery from binge drinking. Heavy alcohol use has many, many negative effects on the body. It alters serotonergic function in the nucleus accumbens, changes hydration levels, damages liver cells, etc. I suppose one could "feel" great after recovering from an alcohol induced altered state, in much the same way one "feels" great after getting over being sick for a time. I suspect that the feeling of being better is a common side effect of the "grass is always greener" type of scenarios rather than any real effect they are offering on cognition etc
     
  11. Dec 15, 2011 #10

    Pythagorean

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    But are alcohol antioxidants any more special than any other source of antioxidants?
     
  12. Dec 15, 2011 #11
    I do better with alcohol or benzodiazepines when I'm very anxious despite some cognitive impairment; that is, the cognitive impairment with my anxiety (and no drugs) is worse than some cognitive impairment with drugs. I know because I've performed under both conditions at different times for verbal exams/interviews/work, etc. But I do suffer from GAD/Performance anxiety and perhaps mild ASD (more questionable). Obviously, this is just anecdotal and I do suffer from anxiety and hyper-sensory issues.
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2011
  13. Dec 15, 2011 #12

    bobze

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    No. And not all alcohol is created equal in the amount of antioxidants it has. Wine, specifically red wines, are the best. I doubt a can of natty light is a good source of antioxidants.
     
  14. Dec 15, 2011 #13
    It's not clear that it's the antioxidant activity that is resposible for the benefits of light-to moderate consumption of alcohol. I doubt it plays the major role? Several hypotheses exist for the mechanism of this protective effect including increased exposure to antioxidants, improved lipid profiles, reduced insulin resistance, decreased blood coagulation, and modified inflammation pathways. Maybe it's just stress reduction or even more social networking means some drinking and it is the former not the latter that is associated with mortality benefits?
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2011
  15. Dec 16, 2011 #14

    atyy

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    Ethanol can improve brain function after you have drunk methanol, compared to drinking methanol alone.
     
  16. Dec 16, 2011 #15
    Relax. Take it easy. My point was that, contrary to ryan_m_b's claim that "No, there is no evidence of this. If you go to pubmed and try a search of alcohol effects you find countless articles on the negative effects and even those that look at the social effects show no real advantages", there is indeed some evidence to the contrary. Whether it is good or not, the OP will have to decide for himself. I haven't read these papers, and I don't intend to.

    To my understanding, the OP realizes that his experience is subjective and anecdotal, but he wonders whether there is some underlying scientific basis to his experiences. That's a legitimate question. I was once wondering whether I am the only one to whom solutions to tough homework problems come right as he falls asleep, as if by a flash of insight. I later discovered that this is indeed a well-known but poorly-understood phenomenon known as hypnagogia.

    The OP is welcome to sift through the papers I listed and see whether there is a phenomenon known as Alcohol Induced Cognitive Lucidity, or some such thing.
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2011
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