News Column

Beer Makes Men Smarter, University of Illinois Study Finds

April 12, 2012

Julia Jacobo

Beer

Beer makes men smarter -- well, kind of -- according to a study conducted at the University of Illinois in Chicago.

Researchers found that men who consumed a couple of beers were better at solving brain teasers than men who were completely sober.

The results were concluded through a bar game devised by researchers in which 40 men were given three words and told to name a fourth to complete the pattern.

For example, the word "cheese" would fit with worlds like "blue," "cottage" or "Swiss."

Half the subjects were given two pints of beer, and the other (unlucky) half were given nothing.

The results were clear even if the subjects' brains were a tad bit fuzzy: those who imbibed solved 40 percent more of the problems, and the drinkers finished their problems an average of 3.5 seconds faster than those who were withheld libations.

"We found at 0.07 blood alcohol, people were worse at working memory tasks, but they were better at creative problem-solving tasks," psychologist Jennifer Wiley reported on the Federation of Associations in Behavioral and Brain Sciences (FABBS) site.

Wiley concluded that the study's findings are contrary to widespread belief that alcohol hinders analytical thinking and muddles the mind.

"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,but that's not necessarily true" she said. "Innovation may happen when people are not so focused. Sometimes it's good to be distracted."

The study may explain why infamously raving drunks like Ernest Hemingway, John Cheever or Charles Bukowski were able to write such memorable books.

"Sometimes the really creative stuff comes out when you're having a glass of wine over dinner, or when you're taking a shower," Wiley said.

As a result of the study, researchers also found that men are more likely to solve a problem when working in groups of three rather than two.



Source: (c) 2012 WPIX-TV (New York)


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