Can Beer Solve Your Problems?
A good beer buzz can actually help you solve problems and to be more creative. This is the conclusion of new study out of the University of Illinois by The Federation of Associations in Behavioral & Brain Sciences, or FABBS.
Beer and Cognition?
The study was published in an edition of ‘Consciousness and Cognition.’ According to the cognitive scientists who conducted this research imbibing with alcohol enhances the brain’s ‘blue sky’ thinking by taking our consciousness away from everyday details. They stress that the amount of alcohol required is very modest and when taken before a problem solving session, which calls for creativity, it can improve performance.
Blue Sky Thinking
Psychologists describe the ‘working memory’ as our ability to think and focus on things and ideas, holding one item in mind while manipulating others. People good at analytical problem solving have a good working memory capacity and concentration span. For creative problem solving our working memory need to be able to work in other ways. A blood-alcohol level of 0.07, seems, from this study, to be the optimum one for heightened ‘blue sky’ thinking.
[box type="important"]A level of 0.08 is the minimum legal level for most states to judge a person as under the influence of drink (even below this level, drivers may have some level of impairment. Don’t drink and drive, period.)[/box]
Beer and Creative Problem Solving
Creative problem solving is partly assessed in the new study by asking people to recall words that link with 3 otherwise unrelated words. For example, what word links with ‘way’, ‘jump’ ‘sky’. An answer is ‘high’. It is this accessing of remote words while holding between 1 and three others words in the working memory that is creative problem solving. A 0.075 level of alcohol after a few vodka and cranberry juices plus snacks and a cartoon movie were the arduous conditions for ‘20 social drinkers.
Alcohol and Associative Thinking
Meanwhile, 20 others were shown the same movie but had no drinks or snacks. The alcohol was shown to actually help with the associative rather than linear logical thinking needed to score well in a cognitive test given to all subjects. Those with alcohol gained an average of nine correct answers compared to 6 for those who were sober.
This study shows us that it is not necessarily the case that having lots of specialist knowledge, and an intense attention span are the only ways to think. Sometimes a level of distraction and randomness can be a useful thinking tool. Apart from a distracting little beer buzz, other mind techniques that improved creativity were, a change from normal routine, a good night’s sleep and growing older.
Thinking Outside of the Box
It is certain that our brains become very good at thinking in set patterns and routines. So much so that many psychologists think, the purpose of the human mind is not to think at all, if it can automate it. For getting through the day quickly and efficiently, this is fine but when it comes to dealing with new circumstances and situations, a different kind of thought process often referred to as lateral thinking or ‘thinking outside of the box’ is better.
[box type="important"]***Of course, we encourage our readers to drink responsibly. NEVER DRINK AND DRIVE!!! We’d also like to note that alcohol is among several potentially addictive substances as you all should know by now! Excessive alcohol consumption over time can lead to permanent brain damage. [/box]