Effects of alcohol on attention orienting and dual-task performance during simulated driving: an event-related potential study.J Psychopharmacol. 2010 Sep; 24(9):1333-48.JP
Driving is a complex task and is susceptible to inattention and distraction. Moreover, alcohol has a detrimental effect on driving performance, possibly due to alcohol-induced attention deficits. The aim of the present study was to assess the effects of alcohol on simulated driving performance and attention orienting and allocation, as assessed by event-related potentials (ERPs). Thirty-two participants completed two test runs in the Divided Attention Steering Simulator (DASS) with blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) of 0.00%, 0.02%, 0.05%, 0.08% and 0.10%. Sixteen participants performed the second DASS test run with a passive auditory oddball to assess alcohol effects on involuntary attention shifting. Sixteen other participants performed the second DASS test run with an active auditory oddball to assess alcohol effects on dual-task performance and active attention allocation. Dose-dependent impairments were found for reaction times, the number of misses and steering error, even more so in dual-task conditions, especially in the active oddball group. ERP amplitudes to novel irrelevant events were also attenuated in a dose-dependent manner. The P3b amplitude to deviant target stimuli decreased with blood alcohol concentration only in the dual-task condition. It is concluded that alcohol increases distractibility and interference from secondary task stimuli, as well as reduces attentional capacity and dual-task integrality.