Regardless of whether we want to admit it or not, alcohol is undoubtedly a great part of our society.
We consume it when we go to lunch or dinner, when go on a first date, when we have guests over, when we celebrate birthdays or graduations, and so on.
It doesn’t matter whether you are drinking a drink or two or you indulge in it, the truth is that even the smallest amount of it affects our brains and behaviors on multiple levels.
The Science of the Effect of Alcohol on the Brain
Unlike caffeine in tea and coffee which is classified as stimulant, alcohol is classified as a depressant. When people consume alcohol, they feel elation, excitement, and an energy boost. So, what makes something that is supposed to make us sleepy so energetic?
Alcohol is classified as depressant as it targets GABA, a neurotransmitter in the brain which affects arousal, behavior, mood, and neuropsychology functioning when stimulated.
How Alcohol acts as a Stimulant
- Alcohol is more than a depressant after all. When you are consuming alcoholic beverages, as the blood alcohol content increases, it acts more as a stimulant, causing the following changes:
- Levels of Norepinephrine increase, the chemical responsible for impulsive behavior and excitement
- Activity in the prefrontal cortex of the brain decreases, the area responsible for decision making and rational thought
- Activity in the temporal cortex decreases, the area where hippocampus is situated. The hippocampus is responsible for forming new memories
- Activity in the cerebellum decreases, the area responsible for motor control
How Alcohol acts as a Depressant
When you stop drinking, the blood alcohol content starts to drop and has a sedative effect on the brain. This is the reason why people get sleep after a few glasses or “pass out” at the end of the night.
Thanks for reading!