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Imbibing alcohol can make you talk louder, laugh harder and weave when you walk. As a bonus, scientists researchers have discovered that drinking, in moderation, can help you weave creative solutions to challenging mental problems.
In the research, scientists found that after men imbibed either two pints of beer or two glasses of wine, they solved brain teasers faster and more accurately than abstainers.
While the findings seem counterintuitive to the traditional view that alcohol impairs analytical thinking, lead author Professor Jennifer Wiley of the University of Illinois at Chicago says that alcohol reduces the mind’s working memory capacity — the ability to focus on one particular part of a problem — allowing the mind to explore a broader range of options for a solution.
“Working memory capacity is considered the ability to control one’s attention,” Wiley told the Federation of Associations in Behavioral and Brain Sciences (FABBS). “It’s the ability to remember one thing while you’re thinking about something else.”
Wiley said that the key finding in the study was that being too focused on an issue can prevent people from exploring more creative solutions.
“We have this assumption, that being able to focus on one part of a problem or having a lot of expertise is better for problem solving,” Wiley said. “But that’s not necessarily true. Innovation may happen when people are not so focused. Sometimes it’s good to be distracted.”
The research applies only to very moderate drinking. The test subjects’ blood alcohol content was approximately 0.075 percent, which means they could still legally get behind the wheel of a car in all 50 States.
If you’re not a drinker and don’t want to imbibe, you can try sleeping instead. Other research contends you can boost your creative problem solving abilities with a good night’s rest.