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Alcohol increases inattentional blindness when cognitive resources are not consumed by ongoing task demands.
Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2018 01; 235(1):309-315.P

Abstract

RATIONALE

Inattentional blindness (IB) is the inability to detect a salient yet unexpected task irrelevant stimulus in one's visual field when attention is engaged in an ongoing primary task. The present study is the first to examine the impact of both task difficulty and alcohol consumption on IB and primary task performance.

OBJECTIVES

On the basis of alcohol myopia theory, the combined effects of increased task difficulty and alcohol intoxication were predicted to impair task performance and restrict the focus of attention on to task-relevant stimuli. We therefore expected increases in breath alcohol concentration to be associated with poorer primary task performance and higher rates of IB, with these relationships being stronger under hard than easy task conditions.

METHODS

This hypothesis was tested in a field study where alcohol drinkers in a local bar were randomly assigned to perform a dynamic IB task with an easy or hard visual tracking and counting task at its core (Simons and Chabris in Perception 28:1059-1074, 1999).

RESULTS

Increasing the difficulty of the primary task reduced task accuracy but, surprisingly, had no impact on the rate of IB. Higher levels of alcohol intoxication were, however, associated with poorer task performance and an increased rate of IB, but only under easy primary task conditions.

CONCLUSIONS

Results are consistent with alcohol myopia theory. Alcohol intoxication depletes attentional resources, thus reducing the drinker's awareness of salient stimuli that are irrelevant to some ongoing primary task. We conclude that this effect was not observed for our hard task because it is more resource intensive, so leaves no spare attentional capacity for alcohol to deplete.

Authors+Show Affiliations

Department of Psychology, University of Portsmouth, King Henry I Street, Portsmouth, PO1 2DY, UK. alistair.harvey@port.ac.uk.Department of Psychology, University of Winchester, Winchester, SO22 4NR, UK.Department of Psychology, University of Portsmouth, King Henry I Street, Portsmouth, PO1 2DY, UK.

Pub Type(s)

Journal Article

Language

eng

PubMed ID

29098340

Citation

Harvey, Alistair J., et al. "Alcohol Increases Inattentional Blindness when Cognitive Resources Are Not Consumed By Ongoing Task Demands." Psychopharmacology, vol. 235, no. 1, 2018, pp. 309-315.
Harvey AJ, Bayless SJ, Hyams G. Alcohol increases inattentional blindness when cognitive resources are not consumed by ongoing task demands. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2018;235(1):309-315.
Harvey, A. J., Bayless, S. J., & Hyams, G. (2018). Alcohol increases inattentional blindness when cognitive resources are not consumed by ongoing task demands. Psychopharmacology, 235(1), 309-315. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-017-4772-9
Harvey AJ, Bayless SJ, Hyams G. Alcohol Increases Inattentional Blindness when Cognitive Resources Are Not Consumed By Ongoing Task Demands. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2018;235(1):309-315. PubMed PMID: 29098340.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - Alcohol increases inattentional blindness when cognitive resources are not consumed by ongoing task demands. AU - Harvey,Alistair J, AU - Bayless,Sarah J, AU - Hyams,Georgia, Y1 - 2017/11/02/ PY - 2017/06/20/received PY - 2017/10/19/accepted PY - 2017/11/4/pubmed PY - 2018/12/20/medline PY - 2017/11/4/entrez KW - Alcohol intoxication KW - Inattentional blindness KW - Task performance KW - Visual attention SP - 309 EP - 315 JF - Psychopharmacology JO - Psychopharmacology (Berl) VL - 235 IS - 1 N2 - RATIONALE: Inattentional blindness (IB) is the inability to detect a salient yet unexpected task irrelevant stimulus in one's visual field when attention is engaged in an ongoing primary task. The present study is the first to examine the impact of both task difficulty and alcohol consumption on IB and primary task performance. OBJECTIVES: On the basis of alcohol myopia theory, the combined effects of increased task difficulty and alcohol intoxication were predicted to impair task performance and restrict the focus of attention on to task-relevant stimuli. We therefore expected increases in breath alcohol concentration to be associated with poorer primary task performance and higher rates of IB, with these relationships being stronger under hard than easy task conditions. METHODS: This hypothesis was tested in a field study where alcohol drinkers in a local bar were randomly assigned to perform a dynamic IB task with an easy or hard visual tracking and counting task at its core (Simons and Chabris in Perception 28:1059-1074, 1999). RESULTS: Increasing the difficulty of the primary task reduced task accuracy but, surprisingly, had no impact on the rate of IB. Higher levels of alcohol intoxication were, however, associated with poorer task performance and an increased rate of IB, but only under easy primary task conditions. CONCLUSIONS: Results are consistent with alcohol myopia theory. Alcohol intoxication depletes attentional resources, thus reducing the drinker's awareness of salient stimuli that are irrelevant to some ongoing primary task. We conclude that this effect was not observed for our hard task because it is more resource intensive, so leaves no spare attentional capacity for alcohol to deplete. SN - 1432-2072 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/29098340/Alcohol_increases_inattentional_blindness_when_cognitive_resources_are_not_consumed_by_ongoing_task_demands_ L2 - https://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00213-017-4772-9 DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -