People often say alcohol can make any face seem more comely, but “beer goggles” do not actually make others more attractive. A new study says alcohol merely shuts down impulse control in the brain long before it reaches the switch for sexual urges.
Dr. Amanda Ellison, senior lecturer in the Department of Psychology at Durham University, says the oldest part of the brain responsible for basic human urges like sexual desire continues to function long after we are intoxicated.
"We still see others basically as they are," Ellison said. "There is no imagined physical transformation — just more desire. Alcohol switches off the rational and decision-making areas of the brain while leaving the areas to do with sexual desire relatively intact."
Her research goes against the grain. Other American research showed men rated pictures of women more highly after looking at alcohol-linked words. A study at London’s Roehampton University claimed men and women had problems rating faces for attractiveness after drinking.
Ellison claims these results are due to even the smallest amount of alcohol bonding with receptors of the upper lobes of the brain, which control decision-making. Therefore it is not our perception of a person’s attractiveness that has changed, rather the decision-making process surrounding sex is impaired by drinking alcohol.
She suggests eating salty foods to curb faulty decision-making. “You would have some food in your stomach and the salt would aid rehydration by retaining water and stopping you pee-ing it all away,” she said.
As the brain re-hydrates alcohol loses its grip on receptors and rational thought slowly returns. “Memory may not come back but rationality does. As the brain rehydrates and the toxins are flushed away the alcohol ceases to bind to the brain receptors and the frontal lobes kick back in.
“We have got to try and work out what the social effect alcohol is having now in an era when contraception is widely available and we have a culture where drinking is the norm,” she said.
Source: Daily Mail