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Happy-hour shoptalk: There might be a brain-boosting side effect to alcohol


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You’re way more likely to hear about alcohol making people slur their words than any purported boozy benefits. But a new study found sipping on some wine during happy hour might actually help bilingual speakers perfect their second language. Quel magnifique, right!?!

Researchers tested the whole “Dutch courage” theory on 50 native German speakers who recently learned to speak, write, and read Dutch, and a low dose of alcohol actually helped participants speak their second language better—pronunciation and all—compared to non-drinkers. The study authors aren’t entirely sure how this brain-boosting side effect works quite yet, but they think it might have to do with alcohol’s ability to boost confidence and ease social anxiety.

“We need to be cautious about the implications of these results until we know more about what causes them. One possible mechanism could be the anxiety-reducing effect of alcohol. But more research is needed to test this.” —Dr. Jessica Werthmann

“We need to be cautious about the implications of these results until we know more about what causes them,” said clinical and cognitive psychologist Jessica Werthmann, PhD, in a press release. “One possible mechanism could be the anxiety-reducing effect of alcohol. But more research is needed to test this.”

Unfortunately you won’t be able to pick up a second language on a whim the next time you decide to have a cocktail (even if it’s full of stress-fighting adaptogens), but if you want to perfect what you learned in your college French class, a little tipple might lend a helping hand, liquid-courage-style.

Is alcohol actually good for you? Here’s what you should know. And here’s how Chelsea Handler boosted her metabolism without cutting alcohol.