Effects of Alcohol on Sequential Information Processing: Evidence for Temporal Myopia

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Alcohol Myopia Theory (AMT) posits that alcohol restricts the focus of attention, such that behaviors are determined only by highly salient environmental cues. While AMT is most commonly understood in terms of spatial attention, the present study tested the effects of alcohol in the temporal domain of attention. Seventy-one participants consumed either a placebo beverage or one of two doses of alcohol (0.40g/kg or 0.80g/kg ETOH) before performing an auditory discrimination task while event-related potentials (ERPs) were recorded. Consistent with typical sequential effects, placebo participants showed increased P300 amplitude and slowed behavioral responses when the current target differed from the two-back tone. In contrast, alcohol caused increased P300 and response slowing when the target tone differed from the one-back tone. These findings suggest that alcohol increases the salience of more recently encountered information, consistent with the general tenets of AMT.

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