Low-Dose Alcohol Effects on Measures of Inhibitory Control, Delay Discounting, and Risk-Taking

Jessica Weafer, Mark T. Fillmore

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


The per se limit for alcohol intoxication in the USA is a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 80 mg/100 ml. However, there is abundant evidence that skilled performance (e.g., information processing, motor coordination) is impaired at BACs well below this limit. By contrast, less is known regarding low-dose alcohol effects on impulsivity-related behaviors, including inhibitory control, delay discounting, and risk-taking. Here, we review the evidence to date regarding performance on behavioral impulsivity and decision-making tasks at BACs below the 80 mg/100 ml limit. Overall, below-limit doses of alcohol impair inhibitory control and increase risk-taking but do not affect delay discounting. Within each facet, alcohol effects were largely task-dependent. We discuss the results in relation to above-limit alcohol effects on these measures, as well as implications of these findings in terms of disadvantageous behavior at BACs below the legal level of intoxication.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-84
Number of pages10
JournalCurrent Addiction Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, Springer International Publishing AG.


  • Alcohol
  • Delay discounting
  • Impulsivity
  • Inhibitory control
  • Low dose
  • Risk-taking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology


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