Foodbeasts, I have a confession: I like drinking as much as the next guy (or girl), but if my only options are dark beer and grape-flavored cough medicine, I’ll take the cough medicine. Sure, the flavor is awful, but at least it’s not beer! And it’ll get you drunk that much faster.
Unfortunately, science says my brain may feel differently. As it turns out, the taste of beer, independent of the alcoholic content, may drive people to drink more — even if they prefer the flavor of something else.
Lemme break it down for you.
Recently, The Greatist took a peek at a study published in the journal of Neuropsychopharmacology. (That’s a real word! Take that, antidisestablishmentarianism!) The researchers snatched up 49 men from different backgrounds: social vs. heavy drinker; histories of alcoholism or drug use vs. none. The point is all the dudes were different dudes. Over the course of 15 minutes, each of these dudes swallowed 15 mL (about one teaspoon) of three different beverages: Gatorade, water, and their preferred beer. In order to avoid a buzz tampering with their results, researchers sprayed the beverages into each man’s mouth in three five-minute blocks. Just in case that teaspoon of beer got anyone a little tipsy. In other words, they took away the only reason anyone would want to drink beer, amirite?
Meanwhile, the science dudes were studying PET scans of the subject dudes’ brains. The scans found the levels of dopamine, the neurotransmitter responsible for the pleasure and reward centers of the brain, were much higher after drinking the beer as opposed to the Gatorade. Even higher than those levels were the levels of beer-drinkers who had family histories of alcoholism.
On top of that, even without their brains betraying them, the subject dudes reported a greater craving for the beer than the Gatorade, even though many of them preferred the taste of the latter.
That’s right, guys. You are powerless to your carnal urges.
Granted, this might not mean anything. It’s just the first experiment, and it was only 49 dudes. Still, neuro-response to sensory stimuli is apparently a pretty common thing. It’s entirely possible our brains have had it in for us this whole time.
To that end, I’d like to see the study repeated with women. Apparently, the researchers couldn’t find enough ladies willing to choke down a whole teaspoon of beer. My suggestion? Let’s try the whole thing with coffee, and sign me up for all 49 spots.