Last weekend I attended a fabulous party. There was excellent champagne, illustrious guests, spectacular food and beautiful live music. The setting was divine, and the cocktails were SO GOOD.
The only thing missing was water. I’m normally pretty good at staying hydrated, but there wasn’t an obvious water station. So to stay cool and keep my mouth from drying out I kept finding myself at the bar.
At least, that was my excuse.
One of the most notorious effects of alcohol is that it effectively shuts down your frontal lobes, lowering your inhibition and turning your mind over to your more primitive impulses.
It is absolutely insane to believe that the best way to keep cool at a party is to have a cold cocktail. It cools you down for maybe 10 minutes and only worsens your feeling of dehydration.
But the part of my brain that considers my long-term happiness was out of commission. My reward pathway had taken over.
The reward system of your brain (basal ganglia, for you neuroscience geeks) is responsible for reinforcing behavior that is immediately rewarding.
It is the neural system associated with addiction and habit formation, and is necessary for initiating movement (it is damaged in patients that have Parkinson’s Disease). …