Effects of binge drinking and hangover on response selection sub-processes—a study using EEG and drift diffusion modeling

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Effects of binge drinking on cognitive control and response selection are increasingly recognized in research on alcohol (ethanol) effects. Yet, little is known about how those processes are modulated by hangover effects. Given that acute intoxication and hangover seem to be characterized by partly divergent effects and mechanisms, further research on this topic is needed. In the current study, we hence investigated this with a special focus on potentially differential effects of alcohol intoxication and subsequent hangover on sub-processes involved in the decision to select a response. We do so combining drift diffusion modeling of behavioral data with neurophysiological (EEG) data. Opposed to common sense, the results do not show an impairment of all assessed measures. Instead, they show specific effects of high dose alcohol intoxication and hangover on selective drift diffusion model and EEG parameters (as compared to a sober state). While the acute intoxication induced by binge-drinking decreased the drift rate, it was increased by the subsequent hangover, indicating more efficient information accumulation during hangover. Further, the non-decisional processes of information encoding decreased with intoxication, but not during hangover. These effects were reflected in modulations of the N2, P1 and N1 event-related potentials, which reflect conflict monitoring, perceptual gating and attentional selection processes, respectively. As regards the functional neuroanatomical architecture, the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) as well as occipital networks seem to be modulated. Even though alcohol is known to have broad neurobiological effects, its effects on cognitive processes are rather specific.

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