If you’re looking for basic human empathy, don’t look for it in a binge-drinker. That’s the come-away from a new study out of the University of Sussex in England. Their research shows undeniably that those who engage in binge-drinking – as defined as “drinking three-quarters of a bottle of wine at once” – had a restricted ability to “empathize with another person’s pain.”
To find this out, they “monitored the brain activity” of both binge-drinkers and non-binge-drinkers. All the subjects were shown “images of an injured body part,” and then asked to “rate the pain experienced by the person with this injury.” What they found was that the binge-drinkers:
Took longer to respond.
Perceived the pain to be “minimal.”
The areas of the brain responsible for feelings of “empathy” lit up, meaning their brains had to work “overtime to imagine someone else’s angst.”
The theory behind this is that a period of heavy drinking, followed by no drinking, can end up messing with your “ability to tune into other people’s feelings.” Those who drink a similar amount, but do it with out the swings and extremes, can have less of an affect on those instincts. So, drinking more moderately can theoretically make you less cold-hearted.
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