Alcohol Boosts Your Subconscious Memory
Everyone knows that alcohol and memory enjoy an inverse relationship: When your head is full of one, the other is notably absent. That's kind of the point of the whole "drinking to forget" thing.
There's a truth to it, of course -- everyone knows that your pub quiz performance deteriorates to hell after a few beers, and a sufficiently thick vodka haze makes your home keys literally impossible to find. However, memory is a notoriously fickle bastard that operates on many levels. On the lowest of them all, we find none other but our subconscious. And according to scientists, alcohol and subconscious memory like to hook up and go to town.
Not a metaphor. This photo was taken in 1988.
It goes back to the basic chemistry that makes drinking enjoyable. The happy buzz you receive from drinking is achieved when the booze cheats your brain into releasing dopamine, the body's very own "Fuck yeah!" hormone. The thing is, it doesn't stop there. Although perfectly capable of giving you a sense of happiness, dopamine is at its core not a pleasure hormone -- it's a learning hormone. The more dopamine you have in your body, the more receptive you become to learning and remembering everything around you ... at a subconscious level.
Your subconscious memory views the feel-good fix that dopamine delivers as a reward it gets from learning as much shit as it can. And boy, it can learn. When your conscious thoughts are drunkenly slurring obscenities at the dude who objected to your tabletop performance of the "Gangnam Style" dance, your subconscious memory is busy being acutely aware of its surroundings, forming all sorts of memory tricks and repeatable habits like no tomorrow.
"Hold my calls. I'm studying for that sales presentation."
The various components of this process are still being explored, but researchers have already gone so far as to suggest that alcoholics may actually not be addicted to alcohol itself, but rather to the memory of the tuned-in state that booze gives to their subconscious. You're forming memories at a faster rate than ever, but instead of anything useful, all you're retaining is the memory that drinking made you feel awesome. Once again, the biggest enabler of your bad habits is that big squishy asshole between your ears.
When XJ isn't busy trying to get a girl to share his chips with, he thoroughly talks about writing on his blog. Follow him on Twitter.
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