Alcohol's dissociation of implicit and explicit memory processes: implications of a parallel distributed processing model of semantic priming

Exp Clin Psychopharmacol. 2004 May;12(2):118-25. doi: 10.1037/1064-1297.12.2.118.


Alcohol's dissociation of implicit (unintentional) and explicit (intentional) memory processes in social drinkers was examined. It was hypothesized that an alcohol challenge would lower the percentage of words recalled and result in more retroactive interference in explicit recall tasks but would not lengthen reaction time in an implicit semantic priming task involving highly semantically similar words. Men and women completed all memory tasks in each of 2 counterbalanced sessions (alcohol challenge vs. no-alcohol) separated by 1 week. Alcohol significantly degraded processing in both explicit memory tasks, yet implicit semantic priming remained intact. A parallel distributed processing model that simulates semantic memory is presented. When this system is strongly activated, it does not appear to be altered during moderate alcohol intoxication.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ethanol / blood
  • Ethanol / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory / drug effects*
  • Mental Recall / drug effects
  • Semantics


  • Ethanol