, Volume 233, Issue 1, pp 83–88

Effects of alcohol-induced working memory decline on alcohol consumption and adverse consequences of use

  • William V. Lechner
  • Anne M. Day
  • Jane Metrik
  • Adam M. Leventhal
  • Christopher W. Kahler
Original Investigation



Alcohol use appears to decrease executive function acutely in a dose-dependent manner, and lower baseline executive function appears to contribute to problematic alcohol use. However, no studies, to our knowledge, have examined the relationship between individual differences in working memory (a subcomponent of executive function) after alcohol consumption and drinking behaviors and consequences.


The current study assessed the relationship between drinking behavior, alcohol-related consequences, and alcohol-induced changes in working memory (as assessed by Trail Making Test-B).


Participants recruited from the community (n = 41), 57.3 % male, mean age 39.2, took part in a three-session, within-subjects, repeated-measures design. Participants were administered a placebo, 0.4 g/kg, or 0.8 g/kg dose of alcohol. Working memory, past 30-day alcohol consumption, and consequences of alcohol use were measured at baseline; working memory was measured again after each beverage administration.


Poorer working memory after alcohol administration (controlling for baseline working memory) was significantly associated with a greater number of drinks consumed per drinking day. Additionally, we observed a significant indirect relationship between the degree of alcohol-induced working memory decline and adverse consequences of alcohol use, which was mediated through greater average drinks per drinking day.


It is possible that greater individual susceptibility to alcohol-induced working memory decline may limit one’s ability to moderate alcohol consumption as evidenced by greater drinks per drinking day and that this results in more adverse consequences of alcohol use.


Working memory Executive function Alcohol Alcohol abuse Problem drinking 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • William V. Lechner
    • 1
  • Anne M. Day
    • 2
  • Jane Metrik
    • 1
    • 3
  • Adam M. Leventhal
    • 4
  • Christopher W. Kahler
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Alcohol and Addiction StudiesBrown University School of Public HealthProvidenceUSA
  2. 2.Edward Hines, Jr. VA HospitalHinesUSA
  3. 3.Providence Veterans Affairs Medical CenterProvidenceUSA
  4. 4.Department of Preventive Medicine, Keck School of MedicineUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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