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Acute effects of alcohol on memory: Impact of emotional context and serial position

Brown, J; Brignell, CM; Dhiman, SK; Curran, HV; Kamboj, SK; (2010) Acute effects of alcohol on memory: Impact of emotional context and serial position. NEUROBIOL LEARN MEM , 93 (3) 428 - 434. 10.1016/j.nlm.2009.12.010.

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Abstract

Although the amnestic effects of alcohol in humans are well known, its effects on emotional memory are unclear. In this study, using a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled design, we examine narrative emotional episodic memory in healthy human female volunteers (n = 32) who received either a single dose of alcohol (0.6 g/kg), or a placebo and then viewed neutral story elements presented in either a neutral or emotional context. Memory was tested for gist and detail of the neutral elements 3 days later in a surprise recognition test. Since alcohol modulates GABAergic neurotransmission and may exert its effects on emotion through the limbic system, we predicted that acute alcohol treatment would reduce the expected emotional memory-advantage for gist, leaving detail memory relatively unaffected. Furthermore, given previous findings showing that 'primacy' memory is enhanced by physiological arousal, we predicted that reduced arousal produced by alcohol would have the opposite effect and impair primacy memory relative to the middle or 'recency' sections of the narrative. Emotional arousal was expected to oppose this effect, so impaired primacy memory following alcohol was only expected in the neutral version of the narrative. Although there was a main effect of story phase (though not of story version), contrary to expectations, alcohol impaired primacy memory for emotionally encoded neutral material. The results suggest that under certain circumstances emotional context or physiological arousal make memories labile and susceptible to disruption through pharmacological manipulation during encoding. (c) 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Type: Article
Title: Acute effects of alcohol on memory: Impact of emotional context and serial position
DOI: 10.1016/j.nlm.2009.12.010
Keywords: Emotional-memory, Alcohol, Amnesia, Gist, Arousal, Primacy, Serial position, RETROGRADE-AMNESIA, AROUSAL, AMYGDALA, STIMULI, RECALL, GIST, QUESTIONNAIRE, CONSOLIDATION, EXPERIENCES, MECHANISMS
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/105055
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