Alcohol might not be the first thing you think of when it comes to boosting your memory. But a surprising new study suggests light drinking may actually help you remember things better later in life.
The research, published in the American Journal of Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias
, linked light and moderate alcohol consumption in individuals over 60 to higher “episodic memory” — the ability to recall memories of events — and larger volume in the hippocampus, a region of the brain tied to memory, Medical News Today reports.
The study — conducted by researchers with the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, the University of Kentucky, and the University of Maryland collaborated on the study — tracked 660 patients who were part of the Framingham Heart Study Offspring Cohort. The team examined medical charts to determine potential links between midlife and late-life alcohol consumption, cognitive functioning, and regional brain volumes in older adults who did not have dementia or a history of alcohol abuse.
Participants filled out surveys on alcohol consumption and demographics, and underwent neuropsychological assessments and magnetic resonance imaging. In addition, the researchers assessed whether they had the presence or absence of genetic risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease.
Lead researcher Brian Downer said the findings suggest light drinking — not more than one or two beverages daily — may enhance memory by subjecting the brain to moderate amounts of alcohol that increase the release of certain brain chemicals involved with cognitive or information processing functions.
The researchers cautioned, however, that long periods of alcohol abuse —defined as having five or more alcoholic beverages during a single drinking experience — harms the brain.
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