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Alcohol is one of the most consumed psychoactive substances in the world, and the negative impact related to alcohol use has become a worldwide public health issue. Alcohol is able to affect diffusely several areas of the Central Nervous System, which could impair visual functions, including eye movements, and cognitive processes. The objective of the present study was to investigate the effects of moderate alcohol intake in eyes movements, as an indicator of cognitive processing underlying the visual search in a the Maze task. We investigated the concentration of 0.08% blood alcohol concentration (BAC), using an intra-subject, double-blind, and placebo-controlled experimental design with a sample size of 20 young adults (11 men and nine women). All volunteers participated in both conditions, i.e., alcohol (0.08%) and placebo (0.00%), in a counterbalanced order. We use the Tobii TX300 eye tracker to evaluate eye movements during completion of Visual Maze Test. The results showed significant differences in the following eye movement patterns: the first fixation latency, number and duration of fixations (mean and total), the number and duration of saccades (mean and total), and the total execution time in the test. In addition, we investigate the areas of interest (AOI), decision points in which the participant must decide which course to follow. We verified that the participants in the alcohol condition had a significantly greater number of fixations in both AOI, in comparison to the placebo condition. Overall, our findings confirm that moderate doses of alcohol can change the eye movements of young adults. These alterations may evidence the influence of alcohol in cognitive processes, such as flexibility, attention, and planning, which are required during resolution of Maze Task.

Citation

Jéssica Bruna Santana Silva, Eva Dias Cristino, Natalia Leandro de Almeida, Paloma Cavalcante Bezerra de Medeiros, Natanael Antonio Dos Santos. Effects of acute alcohol ingestion on eye movements and cognition: A double-blind, placebo-controlled study. PloS one. 2017;12(10):e0186061

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PMID: 29023550

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