Alcohol 'doesn't make you behave badly'

Press Trust Of India
Sep 04, 2011 at 04:01pm IST

London: Getting drunk doesn't make a person behave badly, it just stops him or her from caring about the embarrassment, says a new study.

Researchers at the University of Missouri have carried out the study and shown that drunk people are still aware they are making a mistake, but the alcohol reduces brain signals telling us to worry, the 'Daily Mail' reported.

Prof Bruce Bartholow, who led the study, said: "When we make mistakes, activity in a part of the brain responsible for monitoring behaviour increases. This sends an alarm signal to other parts of the brain indicating that something went wrong.

Alcohol 'doesn't make you behave badly'

Getting drunk doesn't make a person behave badly, it just stops him or her from caring about the embarrassment.

"Our study shows that alcohol doesn't reduce your awareness of mistakes -- it reduces how much you care about making those mistakes."

For their study, the researchers measured the brain activity of people aged between 21 and 35 as they completed a tricky computer task. One third of them were given alcoholic drinks, while the rest were given no alcohol or placebo drink.

In addition to monitoring their brain activity, the researchers also measured changes in participants' mood, their accuracy in the computer task and their perceived accuracy.

The findings showed the brain's "alarm signal" in response to errors was much less pronounced in those who had drunk alcohol. However, they were no less likely to realise when they had made a mistake -- they just didn't care as much.

The tests also found that those who had consumed alcohol were much less likely to slow down and be more careful after they had made a mistake.

Prof Bartholow said: "It is very common for people to respond more slowly following an error, as a way of trying to regain self-control. The alcohol group participants didn't do this."

The researchers said the findings are important in understanding how alcohol contributes to the kinds of mistakes and social blunders we make when we're drunk.

He added: "In certain circumstances reducing the brain's alarm signal could be seen as a good thing because some people like those with anxiety disorders are hypersensitive to things going wrong.

"In some people, a small amount of alcohol can take the edge off those anxious feelings."

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