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To investigate in social drinkers the effects of a ‘normal’ evening
of drinking alcohol on cognitive performance.
Aiming for ecological validity, the study required participants
to consume their usual quantity of any type of alcoholic beverage in
their chosen company (hangover situation). However, the timing of
drinking was restricted to the period between 22:00 and 02:00 hours
on the night before testing. Testing included memory and psychomotor
performance tests; testing was also performed after an evening of
abstinence (no hangover situation), following a counterbalanced
design using repeated measures, with time of testing (09:00, 11:00
and 13:00 hours) and order of testing (hangover/no hangover; no
hangover/hangover) as ‘between participant’ factors in the analysis.
Forty-eight social drinkers (33 women, 15 men) aged between 18 and 43
years were tested, with a 1-week interval between test sessions. The
morning after alcohol (mean consumption: 14.7 units for men;
10.4 units for women), free recall was impaired at 09:00 hours and
delayed recognition and psychomotor performance were impaired
throughout the morning, despite blood alcohol levels of zero or very
Memory and psychomotor performance is impaired on the morning after
heavy ‘social’ drinking.
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