Even a small drink can disconnect you from reality

May 6th, 2009 - 4:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, May 6 (IANS) A moderate dose of alcohol not only induces a wandering mind, it also shuts down the likelihood of a person’s knowing about it.
A University of Pittsburgh (U-P) study has thrown up evidence that this disconnect with reality, when one’s mind has veered off course, can have potentially dangerous or damaging implications.

For example, the disruptive effects of alcohol makes driving dangerous, as drunken drivers lose track of what they are doing and fumble on the way.

Moreover, the finding that alcohol reduces meta-consciousness (a psychological state) may explain why people drive when they are drunk.

By reducing their ability to assess their current state, drunken people may fail to realise how intoxicated they are and unable to appraise the dangers of driving.

Led by U-P professor of psychology Michael Sayette, researchers Erik Reichle and Jonathan Schooler, professor of psychology at University of California, Santa Barbara, studied a group of men - half of whom had consumed alcohol and half of whom had been given a placebo.

After 30 minutes, the participants began reading a portion of Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” from a computer screen.

If they caught themselves zoning out, having no idea what they had just read or thinking about something other than the text, they pressed a key on the keyboard.

They also were prompted at intervals, to see if they could be “caught” mind-wandering before they realised it themselves.

The results revealed that while they were reading the text those the minds of those who had consumed alcohol were wandering without realising it about 25 percent of the time. More than double that of those who had not consumed alcohol, said an U-P release.

These finding have been published in this month’s Psychological Science.

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