Bartholow, an associate professor of psychology, explains that when you do stupid things while wasted, it's not that you're unaware that what you're doing is idiotic, it's that you just don't give a damn.
“Our study isn’t the first to show that alcohol reduces this alarm signal, but contrary to previous studies, our study shows that alcohol doesn’t reduce your awareness of mistakes — it reduces how much you care about making those mistakes,” Bartholow said in a news release.
Surprisingly, the researchers didn't just hand study participants a bottle of Jack and a cell phone with the numbers of everybody from their past. Instead the study had 67 people ages 21-35 — a third of which drank alcohol — complete a difficult computer task that was designed to cause some mistakes.
From the news release: "The findings showed that the brain’s 'alarm signal' in response to errors was much less pronounced in those who had consumed alcohol, and the response was largest for those in the placebo group. However, those in the alcohol group were no less likely to realize when they had made a mistake than participants in the other groups, indicating that alcohol’s reduction of the brain’s 'alarm signal' did not occur simply because those in the alcohol group were unaware of their errors. The findings also showed that those who had consumed alcohol were less likely to slow down and be more careful in the task following errors."
Thanks, academia! So, if you find yourself doing stupid drunken things this weekend, at least now you know a little bit more about why you don't care. Not that this information will stop you.