Neuropsychological profile of acute alcohol intoxication during ascending and descending blood alcohol concentrations.Neuropsychopharmacology. 2006 Jun; 31(6):1301-9.N
Numerous studies have investigated the effects of alcohol on motor processes during rising and declining blood alcohol concentrations (BAC), however, relatively little research has examined the alcohol-induced impairment of cognitive performance on the two limbs of the BAC curve. This experiment administered a neuropsychological test battery to assess the degree to which rising and declining BACs during an acute dose of alcohol impair nine cognitive processes within an individual. In all, 20 healthy male social drinkers (university students) were assigned to one of two groups (n = 10) who received a beverage containing either 0.0 g/kg (placebo) or 0.65 g/kg alcohol and performed the test battery when BAC was increasing and was decreasing. Comparisons of alcohol and placebo groups revealed impairment (slower response and/or increased errors) in seven of the cognitive processes: long-term verbal memory; information processing; declarative memory; inhibitory control; short-term visual memory; long-term visual memory, and visual-spatial working memory. However, some processes were impaired only during rising BACs whereas the impairment of others during declining BACs was evident only by an increase in errors. These results show cognitive tasks performed by an individual are not similarly affected by rising and declining BACs, and call attention to the importance of assessing both speed and accuracy on both limbs of the BAC curve. The particular cognitive processes differentially affected by rising vs declining BACs raised the possibility that acute alcohol intoxication may impair one cerebral hemisphere to a greater degree than the other, and this could be explored by neuroimaging techniques.