Saturday, August 14, 2010

Lost in the Sauce!

Why am I the last to hear about these awesome experiments? Healthy male subjects were dosed up with alcohol (0.82 g/kg) and then asked to preform a mind-wandering reading task. In case anyone was curious, I would have received a six pack of standard 5% beer. These sorry guys only got to drink vodka and cranberry cocktail. Once nicely sauced they were asked to read a book and keep track how many times they lost focus. The researchers actually called it 'zoning out'. To make matters more challenging, they were asked to read Tolstoy's War and Peace. Before starting the experiment, the subjects were asked if they had read this classic piece of literature. Oddly none of these 21-35 year old males had read the book.
Can anyone guess the results? Sauced males were more likely to have a wandering mind; about 25% of the time. When asked what they were zoning out about, they reported thinking about the book about 6.75% of the time. Often they were thinking about "sensory states, such as hunger, thirst, and other consummatory motives." Consummatory motives? After a six pack, what do you think 25 year old males are thinking about?
In summary the researchers concluded, "that a moderate dose of alcohol simultaneously increases mind wandering while reducing the likelihood of noticing that one’s mind has wandered." I might have noticed a little bit of bias. Perhaps if they were allowed to read Sports Illustrated or Wired the results would be a little better.

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