Alcohol consumption, executive function and risky decision making
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Previous research has shown that alcohol intoxication can adversely affect behavior by impairing higher cognitive function (e.g., Giancola, 2000) and can lead to increased risk-taking (Leigh, 1999) via impaired executive control. The purpose of this project was to assess the degree to which individual differences in interference control, including neural measures, are associated with self-reported risk-taking behaviors and whether these behaviors are moderated by alcohol intoxication. Participants were 96 male and female adults ages 21-35. Ps completed several self-report measures of risky behavior and executive function before being assigned to one of three beverage conditions: a no-alcohol control beverage, an active placebo beverage, or an alcohol beverage (1.0 g/kg ethanol). They then engaged in a laboratory cognitive control (flanker) task while their EEG (electroencephalogram) was recorded. This research suggests that effects of alcohol on the relationship between neural measures of cognitive control, task performance and self-reported real world risk behavior may be influenced more by alcohol use expectancy than by actual alcohol consumption.