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Study: Alcohol can sharpen the mind
"Don't knock it until you try it! We do our best work after a beer or two." (Thinkstock)

Study: Alcohol can sharpen the mind

Simon West, MSN NZ

If you're ever looking for the perfect excuse to grab another cold one, you're in luck. A study has found that alcohol can sharpen the thought process when finding solutions to problems.

University of Illinois psychologists tested 40 healthy men in a series of brain teasers. Half drank two pints of beer before taking the test and the other half were sober.

The men were given three words, such as coin, quick and spoon, and tasked with coming up with a fourth word that links all three (in this case the word being silver).

The researchers were a little shocked at what they found — the boozier blokes got more questions right and were quicker in their response.

Yes, the drinking group solved nearly 40 per cent more problems than the others and took an average of 12 seconds per question, compared to the 15.5 seconds needed by the sober subjects.

It was decided that the amount of alcohol found to aid creative thought was around four units, which is roughly three beers or two medium glasses of wine.

"The current research represents the first demonstration of alcohol’s effect on creative problem solving," researchers wrote in the journal Consciousness and Cognition.

"We tested what happens when people are slightly merry — not when people drink to extremes," co-author Jennifer Wiley added. "The bottom line is that we think being too focused can blind you to novel possibilities, and a broader, more flexible state of attention is needed for creative solutions to emerge."

So, a few drinks can indeed help your creativity and problem solving, but good luck explaining this to the kind officer at the random breath-testing checkpoint.

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