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There have always been suggestions that alcohol can help stimulate ideas and indeed many famous writers have suffered from alcohol problems for their art.  For many years, authors have claimed that there’s a good connection between drinking and imagination.

Currently, researchers in the University of Graz may have located a scientific evidence to back the anecdotal concept that wine may resolve writer’s block.

A study published in Consciousness & Cognition from Dr Mathias Benedek analyzed the ramifications of ‘light alcohol intoxication’ on imaginative cognition.

The experimentation found 89 participants resolve creativity-measuring activities after beer ingestion. A number of these were awarded alcoholic beer, while some drank alcohol-free one, which they couldn’t distinguish.

Each player by the alcohol-consuming group needed to get to the degree of moderate intoxication, which meant the concentration of alcohol in bloodstream of 0.03 percent — or 30mg of alcohol at each 100ml of blood. That is less than half of the drink-drive limitation in England, for instance.

Afterward they needed to finish a word association task, like finding a connection between apparently unrelated words such as ‘cabin’, ‘blue’ and ‘cake’.

The participants who drank alcohol was shown to be more inclined to guess that the proper response was ‘cheese’.

The drinkers also played marginally better in jobs measuring inventive thinking, in which they needed to develop as many creative applications as they can for common objects such as umbrella or swing.

The analysis also discovered that alcohol ingestion contributes to restricted ‘cognitive management’, which could be frequently a barrier in solving creative activities.

‘Alcohol may especially play a part in mitigating fixation consequences,’ explained Dr Benedek from the journal post. ‘In inventive problem solving, issues can frequently only be solved following a restructuring of the problem representation.’

‘When first solution tries get on the wrong path, this may result in blocks to instant problem solving, which will be referred to as psychological fixation. Alcohol can decrease fixation consequences by harnessing the attention of attention.’

Dr Benedek cautioned that The findings weren’t an invitation to drink too to improve creativity.   Especially as alcohol is a growing problem in all sectors of society including the creative and artistic sectors.  There are some important developments in treatments though including some that can allow moderate consumption.  This is quite different to traditional methods which almost all advocate completely abstaining.

One such treatment is called the Sinclair Method which is based on a drug called Nalmefene or Selincro, the latter is the trade name in Europe. The drug Selincro actually reduces the pleasurable effects of alcohol by blocking the opiates released.   You can read about someone taking Selincro in this blog post –

‘Beneficial consequences are probably limited to quite small quantities of alcohol, where as excess alcohol ingestion typically impairs inventive growth,’ he explained at the analysis write-up.

John Coates