GALVESTON, Texas, Oct. 22 (UPI) -- The memory of dementia-free adults aged 60 years and older might by improved by just one or two alcoholic drinks per day, new research suggests. The light to moderate consumption of alcohol was also found to be correlated with a larger hippocampus, a portion of the brain key to episodic memory -- recalling the details of specific events.
Researchers located this correlation after analyzing data -- including medical history, brain scans, drinking habits and genetic disease risks -- from more than 660 patients, all of it collected as part of the Framingham Heart Study Offspring Cohort. Survey participants also performed a litany of cognitive and memory tests.
While responsible drinkers showed improved memory, there was no evidence to suggest overall intelligence is improved by a couple glasses of wine.
Previous studies involving animals have found a link between moderate alcohol consumption and preservation of the brain's hippocampus, promoting new cell growth in the portion of the brain essential for emotion, memory and the nervous system.
"There were no significant differences in cognitive functioning and regional brain volumes during late life according to reported midlife alcohol consumption status," lead study author Brian Downer, a researcher at the University of Texas Medical Branch, said in a press release. "This may be due to the fact that adults who are able to continue consuming alcohol into old age are healthier, and therefore have higher cognition and larger regional brain volumes, than people who had to decrease their alcohol consumption due to unfavorable health outcomes."