Improved memory for information learnt before alcohol use in social drinkers tested in a naturalistic setting
Morgan, Celia J. A.
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Carlyle, M., Dumay, N., Roberts, K., McAndrew, A., Stevens, T., Lawn, W., & Morgan, C.J.A. (2017). Improved memory for information learnt before alcohol use in social drinkers tested in a naturalistic setting. Scientific Reports, 7: 6213. Doi:10.1038/s41598-017-06305-w
Alcohol is known to facilitate memory if given after learning information in the laboratory; we aimed to investigate whether this effect can be found when alcohol is consumed in a naturalistic setting. Eighty-eight social drinkers were randomly allocated to either an alcohol self-dosing or a sober condition. The study assessed both retrograde facilitation and alcohol induced memory impairment using two independent tasks. In the retrograde task, participants learnt information in their own homes, and then consumed alcohol ad libitum. Participants then undertook an anterograde memory task of alcohol impairment when intoxicated. Both memory tasks were completed again the following day. Mean amount of alcohol consumed was 82.59 grams over the evening. For the retrograde task, as predicted, both conditions exhibited similar performance on the memory task immediately following learning (before intoxication) yet performance was better when tested the morning after encoding in the alcohol condition only. The anterograde task did not reveal significant differences in memory performance post-drinking. Units of alcohol drunk were positively correlated with the amount of retrograde facilitation the following morning. These findings demonstrate the retrograde facilitation effect in a naturalistic setting, and found it to be related to the self-administered grams of alcohol.