Drunk, but not blind: The effects of alcohol intoxication on change blindness

Consciousness and Cognition 22 (1):231-236 (2013)
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Alcohol use has long been assumed to alter cognition via attentional processes. To better understand the cognitive consequences of intoxication, the present study tested the effects of moderate intoxication on attentional processing using complex working memory capacity span tasks and a change blindness task. Intoxicated and sober participants were matched on baseline WMC performance, and intoxication significantly decreased performance on the complex span tasks. Surprisingly, intoxication improved performance on the change blindness task. The results are interpreted as evidence that intoxication decreases attentional control, causing either a shift towards more passive processing and/or a more diffuse attentional state. This may result in decreased performance on tasks where attentional control or focus are required, but may actually facilitate performance in some contexts



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