Comparison of alcohol impairment of behavioral and attentional inhibition

Jessica Weafer, Mark T. Fillmore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Background: Despite the wealth of studies demonstrating the impairing effects of alcohol on behavioral inhibition, less is known regarding effects of the drug on attentional inhibition (i.e., the ability to ignore distracting stimuli in the environment in order to focus attention on relevant information). The current study examined alcohol impairment of both behavioral and attentional inhibition, as well as potential associations between the two mechanisms of inhibitory control. Methods: Men (n= 27) and women (n= 21) performed a measure of behavioral inhibition (cued go/no-go task) and a measure of attentional inhibition (delayed ocular return task) following three doses of alcohol: 0.65. g/kg, 0.45. g/kg, and 0.0. g/kg (placebo). Results: Alcohol impaired both behavioral and attentional inhibition relative to placebo; however, correlational analyses revealed no associations between measures of behavioral and attentional inhibition following any dose. Additionally, men committed more inhibitory failures on the behavioral inhibition task, whereas women committed more inhibitory failures on the attentional inhibition task. Conclusions: These findings suggest that behavioral and attentional inhibition are equally sensitive to the impairing effects of alcohol, yet represent distinct components of inhibitory control. Additionally, the observed gender differences in control of behavior and attention could have important implications regarding negative consequences associated with alcohol-induced disinhibition in men and women.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)176-182
Number of pages7
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Nov 1 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Grants R01 AA018274, R01 AA012895, and F31 AA018584. The NIAAA had no further role in study design; in the collection, analysis and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; or in the decision to submit the paper for publication.


  • Alcohol
  • Attentional inhibition
  • Behavioral inhibition
  • Gender

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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