Beer goggles

A scientific explanation of ‘beer goggles’

‘Beer goggles’, the phenomenon used to explain how a few stiff drinks can transform the plainest face into something much more attractive, has been revealed as a myth by a brain expert.

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, says British psychologist, Dr Amanda Ellison.

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

Dr Ellison, senior lecturer in the Department of Psychology at Durham University, 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 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.

Dr 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.

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.

She said: “Hangovers are caused by dehydration – the brain shrinks and tugs on the meninges which causes the headache.

“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.”

While sober, we are constantly weighing up questions of looks versus personality in our search for the right soul mate.

Dr Ellison said that while evolution had made women more choosy about who they go to bed with, both sexes are looking for a soul mate – and personality is just as important as looks in selecting a partner.

However, all this goes out of the window when we drink because of the sequence in which alcohol acts on areas of the brain.

Women claim they don’t get beer goggles, she said, “but they do”……

The Telegraph: Read the full article