Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Drink For The Muses
Monkeys do it. College students do it. Even gigantic elephants do it! So why don't we do it?
Let's do it! Let's get tipsy!
For our creativity, of course! Lordly science has proved that a quaff of fermented potato juice can help the mind.
Recent research at the University of Chicago has started to explain why there may be a link between intoxication and creativity. In what may be one of the simplest experimental set-ups I have ever read about, Andrew Jarsosz and his collaborators brought forty people into the lab to do a "Remote Associates Test", a common test of creative thinking. Twenty of these lucky experimental subjects were given vodka. The others were left quietly sober. The tipsy people did better on the test of creativity than the dry ones. Score one for the drunken artist!
Why should a drug that mildly poisons your brain also help you think? Jarsosz et al suggest that drinking might help us get into what they call a divergent mode of thought, one which makes it easier to answer questions that require you to think creatively.
I am firmly to the coffee side of the coffee-alcohol-writer-continuum, so until Jarsosz and his friends prove that cracking open a beer can help blogs suddenly get popular, and novels suddenly become published, I am going to stick to my bean-based stimulant.
I read about this research on the excellent BPS Research Digest. Boring name, fascinating blog.