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'Beer goggles' just a myth: expert

Press Trust of India  |  London 

'Beer goggles', the phenomenon that a few drinks can make you see even plain faces as more attractive than they are, is just a myth, a brain expert has claimed.

Dr Amanda Ellison's book 'Getting Your Head Around the Brain', which pulls together a range of research into how alcohol affects the brain, argues that men and women do not see each other any differently after alcohol.


"The area of the brain that makes us want to mate keeps functioning, no matter how much we drink, meaning that people can still assess how visually-appealing others are," said Ellison, senior lecturer in the Department of Psychology at Durham University.

"We still see others basically as they are. There is no imagined physical transformation - just more desire," she said.

Ellison has found that a fluke of nature sees alcohol closing down the section of the mind that stops us acting on impulse long before it deadens the 'reptilian' part responsible for our sexual urges, The Telegraph reported.

The area of the brain that makes us want to mate is the oldest part - and located so far down that it keeps functioning however much we drink - until we are ready to pass out, she said.

But after as little as half a pint of beer, alcohol starts bonding with the receptors of the upper lobes which control decision-making.

The more primitive section of the brain in the cortex below which governs our sex drive is carrying on unaffected. Normally, this part of the brain is kept in check by the upper lobes.

Hangovers are caused by dehydration - the brain shrinks and tugs on the meninges which causes the headache, she said.

"But before that, alcohol switches off the rational and decision making areas of the brain while leaving the areas to do with sexual desire relatively intact, and so this explains beer goggles," she added.

First Published: Mon, March 04 2013. 15:10 IST
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