Acute effects of alcohol on intrusion errors in free recall tasks

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This study is a secondary analysis of acute alcohol effects on intrusion errors in social drinkers in immediate free recall and delayed free recall tasks. The aim was to examine further the mechanism through which intrusion errors occur in delayed recall. Intrusion errors occur when individuals produce information that is not relevant to the task. Previous research suggests that alcoholics are less able than controls to inhibit intrusions (a reflective cognitive function) under both no-intoxication and acute benzodiazepine Halcion intoxication conditions. We hypothesized that acute alcohol intoxication in social drinkers would cause more intrusion errois reflecting impaired reflective cognitive function in the delayed, compared to the immediate, free recall task. Twenty-two (11 male) volunteers participated in two counterbalanced sessions (alcohol, no-alcohol). In the alcohol session, free recall tasks were completed at blood alcohol concentrations between 80-84 mg/dl. Results showed that participants committed significantly more intrusion errors in a delayed recall task during acute alcohol intoxication compared to their no alcohol performance level. In contrast, in the immediate free recall task, participants' number of intrusion errors did not differ between alcohol and no-alcohol conditions. We suggest that by increasing the susceptibility to interference, acute alcohol intoxication caused more intrusion errors in the delayed, than in the immediate free recall task. Finally, the implications of these results in terms of alcohol prevention and intervention are suggested.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-206
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal on Disability and Human Development
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Rehabilitation
  • Sensory Systems
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing
  • Speech and Hearing


  • Intrusion errors
  • acute alcohol intoxication
  • free recall
  • reflective cognition


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