Alcohol Hangover Slightly Impairs Response Selection but not Response Inhibition

J Clin Med. 2019 Aug 27;8(9):1317. doi: 10.3390/jcm8091317.


Alcohol hangover commonly occurs after an episode of heavy drinking. It has previously been demonstrated that acute high-dose alcohol intoxication reduces cognitive control, while automatic processes remain comparatively unaffected. However, it has remained unclear whether alcohol hangover, as a consequence of binge drinking, modulates the interplay between cognitive control and automaticity in a comparable way. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of alcohol hangover on controlled versus automatic response selection and inhibition. N = 34 healthy young men completed a Simon Nogo task, once sober and once hungover. Hangover symptoms were experimentally induced by a standardized administration of alcoholic drinks (with high congener content) on the night before the hangover appointment. We found no significant hangover effects, which suggests that alcohol hangover did not produce the same functional deficits as an acute high-dose intoxication. Yet still, add-on Bayesian analyses revealed that hangover slightly impaired response selection, but not response inhibition. This pattern of effects cannot be explained with the current knowledge on how ethanol and its metabolite acetaldehyde may modulate response selection and inhibition via the dopaminergic or GABAergic system.

Keywords: Simon Nogo task; alcohol; automatism; cognitive control; hangover; response inhibition; response selection.