Drinking to forget can actually strengthen bad memories

by Beatrice Credi - 2017.01.12
Drinking to forget can actually strengthen bad memories
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Alcohol not only prevents you from forgetting bad memories but makes them stronger. How? by strengthening nerve cells connected to the brain's fear response center. The study, carried out at Johns Hopkins, used mice to observe the effects of alcohol on fearful responses to memories. The mice were 'fear trained' by being put in a cage with an electrified floor and playing six tones along with a shock. They were then split into two groups with one group given water and the other a 20% ethanol drink.The next day, researchers tried to disassociate the mice's negative response to the tones by playing them without a shock. The mice who were given alcohol were much more likely to 'freeze' than the ones who were given water. Brain tissue samples showed why: mice given alcohol had many more receptors along their synapses than did mice given only water. This is crucial since stronger synapses (or, connections between brain cells) mean stronger memories - and a stronger connection with the brain's fear response.

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