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Hangovers Make People Dumber

Update Date: Aug 01, 2013 06:44 PM EDT

A night out on the town can dumb you down, according to new research.

Not only will hangovers make you feel miserable, they can make you stupid too.  Researchers found that hangovers, which are symptoms felt after alcohol levels in the blood return to zero, damage brain function.

"The symptoms of an alcohol hangover are not just physiological - they affect cognitive functioning and mood as well which may lead to numerous undesirable life consequences," Dr Lauren Owen, Marie Curie postdoctoral research fellow at Keele University's school of psychology told The Telegraph.

"Although numerous scientific papers cover the acute effects of alcohol consumption, researchers have largely neglected the issue of alcohol hangover," Owen added.

While scientists still don't fully understand the hangover, these miserable symptoms are thought to be signs of dehydration. 

Chemicals in alcohol can also play a role. Experts explain that the main form of alcohol in most drinks is ethanol, a chemical the body breaks down into acetate so that it can be flushed out of the body. However, acetate can briefly form a toxic molecule called acetaldehyde.  Other chemicals like methanol, which can be found in some alcoholic drinks, are sometimes also broken down into more toxic compounds. Other ingredients like congeners in darker alcoholic drinks are also believed to worsen a hangover.

The latest findings revealed that hangovers significantly affect the brain's "working memory". Researchers found a five percent to ten percent drop in performance of working memory and an increase in errors by around 30 percent when participants were hungover. Researchers found that reaction times were also slower in people suffering handovers.

The findings will be presented at Keele University.

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