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Alcohol Makes Drinkers Zone Out Without Realizing They Are Zoning Out

Alcohol Makes Your Mind Wander, But You Won't Notice

Anyone who's been tipsy knows it can set your mind a-wandering. What's worse, you may not even notice that it's wandering. Wait, sorry — what was I just saying?


A new University of Pittsburgh study suggests that even small amounts of alcohol can make you zone out without realizing that you're zoning out. In fact, putting back a few may put you in a state of meta-consciousness, where thoughts pass through your head without you fully noticing.

For the study, participants had to read part of War and Peace after consuming alcohol (try that next time you're drunk) and push a button when they caught their minds wandering:

The results revealed that while they were reading the text those who had consumed alcohol were mind-wandering without realizing it about 25 percent of the time — more than double that of those who had not consumed alcohol.

I've definitely been involved in some meandering bar conversations that suggest these finding are true. But it's hardly a laughing matter when talking about high-functioning alcoholics or other problem drinkers. According to psychology professor Michael Sayette, "this 'double-whammy' may explain why alcohol often disrupts efforts to exercise self-control."

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