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Binge drinking is an increasingly prevalent pattern of alcohol consumption that impairs top-down cognitive control to a much stronger degree than automatic response generation. Even though an imbalance of those two antagonistic processes fosters the development and maintenance of alcohol use disorders (AUDs), it has never been directly investigated how binge drinking affects the interaction of those two processes. We therefore assessed a sample of n = 35 healthy young men who were asked to perform a newly developed Simon Nogo paradigm once sober and once intoxicated (~1.2‰) in a balanced within-subject design. Additionally, an EEG was recorded to dissociate controlled and automatic cognitive subprocesses. The results demonstrate that alcohol seems to reduce top-down cognitive control. This control impairment was associated with changes in S-R mapping (reflected by a reduced parietal P3 amplitude), top-down response selection (reflected by modulations of lateralized readiness potentials), and (the evaluation of) response inhibition (reflected by modulations of the Nogo P3). In sharp contrast to this, automatic processing does not seem to be equally altered, as we found neither increases nor decreases in this domain. Most importantly, we also found that the interaction between control and automatisms might be less impaired by alcohol than control alone, which may help to overcome alcohol-induced response inhibition deficits. These "carryover" effects of control from one domain to the other could potentially prove beneficial in AUDs. © 2018 Society for the Study of Addiction.


Witold X Chmielewski, Nicolas Zink, Keluf Ylva Chmielewski, Christian Beste, Ann-Kathrin Stock. How high-dose alcohol intoxication affects the interplay of automatic and controlled processes. Addiction biology. 2020 Jan;25(1):e12700

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PMID: 30561794

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