It may come as a surprise to anyone nursing a hangover, but beer might actually be good for your brain.
Boffins at Oregon State University found that a chemical called xanthohumol, which is found in hops, improved "cognitive function" related to the memory of mice.
Xanthohumol is a flavanoid, a class of compounds which are found in foods including dark chocolate, red wine and blueberries. These chemicals are thought to have health-giving properties.
Rather than doing the British thing of whacking eight pints of the stuff down their necks and then challenging them to a fight, the researchers fed the rodents a small dietary supplement over an eight-week period.
The team set their mice a variety of tests, including the Morris Water Maze, in which the beasties have to find a hidden platform which allows them to escape a pool of water.
They found that young mice who had been fed xanthohumol showed a noticeable increase in their spatial memory, although old rats did not see any uptick in their brain function.
Kathy Magnusson, a professor at Oregon State University, said this meant kids should start boozing right away. Or something like that, anyway.
"This flavonoid and others may have a function in the optimal ability to form memories," she said.
"Part of what this study seems to be suggesting is that it’s important to begin early in life to gain the full benefits of healthy nutrition."
Sadly, to get the same effect a human would have to down 2,000 litres of the stuff a day (3,520 pints) to ingest the amount of xanthohumol used in the study for the same period, which isn't going to do anyone's cognitive functions a favour.
A paper on the research has been published in the journal Behavioural Brain Research. ®