It’s often said that when someone is feeling troubled alcohol is not the answer. But now there’s a study that shows the opposite is true. Alcohol directly affects the gene that encodes if a memory is pleasant or not. Sure booze won’t make your ex doubt the break up or fix your financial debts, but it will make your brain focus on the good memories. Researchers from the Brown University in Rhode Island (USA) who performed this study say people find these memories “rewarding” and that’s why they don’t mind the negative side effects of alcohol consumption like headaches and nausea the next morning. It also explains why you can remember all the fun moments you had at a party, but not the struggles you had on the way home.
The gene that is in charge of our good and bad memories is known as the D2-like receptor. Research showed that a single glass of wine can change the pathway of this gene for an hour before it returns to its usual course. However 3 glasses already cause a 24 hour window in which bad memories are dismissed. Therefor the study team says alcohol hijacks the pathway that forms memories on a fundamental molecular level. Simply put: if you stick to a diet of at least three glasses of booze a day you will live a lot happier. The same change that goes on in our brain is also the reason why people who turn to rehab to quit drinking often return to their old habbits, because their mind has formed “craving memories” under the influence of alcohol.
In the study the researchers used fruit flies as these animals are attracted to alcohol and have similar molecular signals that form their memories of reward and avoidance as humans. To team was surprised to find alcohol intake didn’t turn the D2-like receptor on or off, nor did it decrease the amount of protein made. In fact it changed the version of protein that was made, which leads to different memories. In an interview with the Daily Mail senior author Karla Kaun said: “We were surprised because it may not be gene expression that is going up or down in the brain, but rather it’s changing from one form to other, It gives an understanding of this whole new layer of plasticity and why memories are formed.”