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September 12, 2021

Is being drunk ever an excuse for anything?

Whether it's an embarrassing text sent or breaking all those windows when the team loses the big one, it’s not hard to pinpoint something dumb you simply wouldn't do while sober.  

GlassAnd while there are lots of myths as to how alcohol affects us and what to do about it, there's really only one question: Why do people do such stupid things when they’re drunk?

University of Missouri researchers have found alcohol dulls the brain signal that warns people when they’re making a mistake, ultimately reducing self-control.

While the recent study is the first to note that people can control drunken behaviour, it's point is that that drinking doesn’t really decrease your awareness of mistakes, it just reduces how much you care about making those mistakes, says researcher Bruce Bartholow.

In the study, his team measured the brain activity of a group of 25 to 35 year old subjects as they completed a challenging computer task.

About one-third of the participants were given booze, while the rest were given a placebo beverage or nothing at all.

The researchers discovered the brain’s alarm signal in response to errors was significantly dampened in those who had consumed alcohol, whereas the response was largest for those in the placebo group.

However, those in the woozy group recognized they'd made a mistake on about the same level as participants in the other groups, indicating that alcohol’s reduction of the brain’s warning lights didn’t occur simply because those in the alcohol group were unaware of their errors.

They just didn't care all that much. For instance, those who had consumed alcohol were less likely to slow down and be more careful in the task following those errors.

Slow learners, one and all.

Do you believe that intoxicated people actually have much greater control over their behaviour than generally recognized.

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money





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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...