Via The Hot Button, comes news of research from the University of Illinois on alcohol and intelligence.
Researchers suggest that the moderate levels of alcohol “loosened up” a person’s focus, allowing them to solve intuitive and creative word association problems, while the sober participants were more rigid in their problem-solving. In the study, both groups watched an animated movie. Afterward, they were given this test: They saw three words on a screen and then had to come up with a fourth that could form a phase with each of them. (Example: For peach, arm and tar, the response would be pit.)Science News has a little more and the (gated) paper is here.
The abstract of the paper:
That alcohol provides a benefit to creative processes has long been assumed by popular culture, but to date has not been tested. The current experiment tested the effects of moderate alcohol intoxication on a common creative problem solving task, the Remote Associates Test (RAT). Individuals were brought to a blood alcohol content of approximately .075, and, after reaching peak intoxication, completed a battery of RAT items. Intoxicated individuals solved more RAT items, in less time, and were more likely to perceive their solutions as the result of a sudden insight. Results are interpreted from an attentional control perspective.
I have discussed how 'controlled distraction' is one key to creative thinking and it is interesting to see more on the subject.