Navigation Links
Alcohol dulls brain 'alarm' that monitors mistakes, MU study finds

COLUMBIA, Mo. Most people have witnessed otherwise intelligent people doing embarrassing or stupid things when they are intoxicated, but what specifically happens in the brain to cause such drunken actions? A new study testing alcohol's effects on brain activity from the University of Missouri says that alcohol dulls the brain "signal" that warns people when they are making a mistake, ultimately reducing self control.

"When people make mistakes, activity in a part of the brain responsible for monitoring behavior increases, essentially sending an alarm signal to other parts of the brain indicating that something went wrong," said Bruce Bartholow, associate professor of psychology in the MU College of Arts and Science. "Our study isn't the first to show that alcohol reduces this alarm signal, but contrary to previous studies, our study shows that alcohol doesn't reduce your awareness of mistakes it reduces how much you care about making those mistakes."

During the study, Bartholow's team measured the brain activity of 67 participants, ages 21-35, as they completed a challenging computer task designed to elicit some errors. About one third of the participants were given alcoholic drinks, while the rest were given no alcohol or a placebo beverage. In addition to monitoring their brain activity, the researchers also measured changes in participants' mood, their accuracy in the computer task, as well as their perceived accuracy.

The findings showed that the brain's "alarm signal" in response to errors was much less pronounced in those who had consumed alcohol, and the response was largest for those in the placebo group. However, those in the alcohol group were no less likely to realize when they had made a mistake than participants in the other groups, indicating that alcohol's reduction of the brain's "alarm signal" did not occur simply because those in the alcohol group were unaware of their errors. The findings also showed that those who had consumed alcohol were less likely to slow down and be more careful in the task following errors.

"In tasks like the one we used, although we encourage people to try to respond as quickly as possible, it is very common for people to respond more slowly following an error, as a way of trying to regain self-control. That's what we saw in our placebo group. The alcohol group participants didn't do this," Bartholow said.

The researchers also found that the size of the brain's alarm signal was strongly associated with participants' mood at the time of the test, and that most of the participants in the alcohol group reported feeling "less negative" after drinking than before. Bartholow said the findings are an important step forward in understanding how alcohol's effects on the brain contribute to the kinds of mistakes and social blunders people sometimes make when they're drunk.

"There are certain circumstances under which reducing the brain's alarm signal could be seen as a good thing, because some people, like those with anxiety disorders, are hyper-sensitive to things going wrong. In some people, a small amount of alcohol can take the edge off those anxious feelings, but consistently drinking as a way to reduce anxiety can lead to serious problems, including alcoholism," said Bartholow. "But generally speaking, having a strong brain response to mistakes promotes better self-control and helps people avoid making further mistakes in the future."


Contact: Steven Adams
University of Missouri-Columbia

Related medicine news :

1. Study: Community organization can reduce, negate impact of alcohol outlets on neighborhood violence
2. Does moderate alcohol consumption increase body weight?
3. More Evidence That Alcohol Hinders Good Sleep
4. Alcohol consumption in relation to acute pancreatitis
5. The effects of smoking and alcohol use on risk of upper aero-digestive cancers
6. NIH awards WSU researcher $1.7 million to study non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
7. Returning vets alcohol abuse addressed in virtual reality study
8. Drinking Alcohol May Prolong, Not Relieve, Stress
9. Alcohol Affects Left, Right Heart Chambers Differently
10. Overall health effects of alcohol consumption
11. Alcohol, Water Sports Can Be Deadly Mix
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Alcohol dulls brain 'alarm' that monitors mistakes, MU study finds
(Date:6/26/2016)... ... 27, 2016 , ... Quality metrics are proliferating in cancer care, and are ... the eye of the beholder, according to experts who offered insights and commentary in ... Managed Care. For the full issue, click here . , For the American ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... ... 2016 , ... PawPaws brand pet supplements owned by Whole Health ... the health of felines. The formula is all-natural and is made from Chinese herbs ... Cat Kidney Support Supplement Soft Chews are Astragalus Root Extract and Rehmannia ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... Experts ... applications at AcademyHealth’s Annual Research Meeting June 26-28, 2016, at the Hynes Convention ... health care topics including advance care planning, healthcare costs and patient and family ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... "With 30 hand-drawn hand gesture ... said Christina Austin - CEO of Pixel Film Studios. , ProHand Cartoon’s package ... Final Cut Pro X . Simply select a ProHand generator and drag it ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... Dr. Calvin Johnson has ... he has implemented orthobiologic procedures as a method for treating his patients. The ... first doctors to perform the treatment. Orthobiologics are substances that orthopaedic surgeons use ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 23, 2016 Bracket , a leading ... next generation clinical outcomes platform, Bracket eCOA (SM) 6.0, ... June 26 – 30, 2016 in Philadelphia ... Clinical Outcome Assessment product of its kind to fully integrate ... Bracket eCOA 6.0 is a flexible platform for electronic ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... and INDIANAPOLIS , June 23, 2016 ... Lilly Diabetes Tomorrow,s Leaders Scholarship is any indication, the ... announced today online at by the ... diabetes stand in the way of academic and community ... Foundation,s scholarship program since 2012, and continues to advocate ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... -- Revolutionary technology includes multi-speaker listening to ... leaders in advanced audiology and hearing aid technology, has ... the world,s first internet connected hearing aid that opens ...      (Photo: ) , ... firsts,: , TwinLink™ - the first dual ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: