European practices that enhance cognitive function: regular modest alcohol consumption and siestas

Research reported in Scientific American: Mind (January 2008, p. 9) demonstrates that rats that consumed the human equivalent of one or two beers a day showed marked improvement in memory of visual and emotional stimuli. “The modest booze consumption strengthened communication between memory neurons.” However, heavy alcohol consumption was found to compromise object recognition.

Yet another cognitive scientifically validated European cultural practice! Another such practice is the siesta, as practiced in a number of Mediterranean nations and hot climate regions around the world. It has been found that the normal human biological rhythm includes a dip in the afternoon. Research has shown that a short afternoon nap can pay dividends for post-nap productivity. The New York Times also reports on research indicating that regular day naps can extend one’s life.

5 Responses to “European practices that enhance cognitive function: regular modest alcohol consumption and siestas”
  1. quotesqueen says:

    Now this is research I can live by! 🙂

  2. filipmoroz says:

    Siesta comes from areas that had less hostile environment since ancient times. Rest of Europe has generational fear of surviving winter that leads to the increased work activity without authorized reason in modern technological circumstances. Since people from colder areas are by nature more competitive, their culture leads the acceleration of action on two continents today. Even despite the environmental effects it would be wise to understand those roots and to divide “more” from “enough” for own health’s sake.

  3. quotesqueen says:

    We’d all be better off if we moved more slowly. I love the semi-serious website by Christopher Richards, Slow Down Now ( in which he proclaims that multi-tasking is a moral failure! I think the idea of siesta is brilliant. But maybe that’s because I naturally (bio-rhythm-wise) want to take a nap from 2-4 p.m!

  4. alexis sage says:

    There have been several studies done on humans, similar to the one about the rats with moderate alcohol consumption. These studies have shown that for women over the age of 35 who drink moderately (about 1 drink a day) performed better on cognitive function tests than non drinkers. Furthermore, moderate drinking may even decrease the rate at which cognitive function naturally decline, thus protecting a woman’s cognitive function for longer. The effects on men varied slightly, but still showed benefits of moderate drinking. The question is do the benefits of moderate alcohol consumption outweigh the risk, especially for a women?

  5. Stoobs says:

    I remember learning in psych class that the two easiest things a person can do to make their life a happier one is to eat good meals at a regular time, and to get 8 full hours of sleep a night. Each of these two actions will increase your overall happiness to a greater extent than any amount of wealth, fame, or success.

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