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Neuropsychologia. 1991;29(12):1205-12.

Dissociation of the acute effects of alcohol on implicit and explicit memory processes.

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  • 1Laboratory of Clinical Studies, NIAAA, DICBR, NIH, Bethesda, MD 20892.


The effects of alcohol (0, 0.3 and 0.6 g/kg) on learning and memory were assessed in independent groups of male student volunteers. Subjects were shown a list of words and asked to form an image of a scene involving each word 1 hr after drinking an alcohol-containing beverage. Alcohol consumption impaired the ability of subjects to explicitly remember the words in a test of free recall. However, no impairment was observed if memory for the same material was assessed implicitly using a backwards-reading or word-completion task. That is, both alcohol-and placebo-treated subjects showed similar degrees of priming. The data indicate that alcohol's effects on memory are selective.

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