Forget "drinking to forget": enhanced consolidation of emotionally charged memory by alcohol

Exp Clin Psychopharmacol. 1997 Aug;5(3):242-50. doi: 10.1037//1064-1297.5.3.242.


Social drinkers (42 men, 18-34 years old) participated in a study of the effects of alcohol consumption on incidental memory for emotionally salient verbal stimuli. Participants rated depressing, elating, and neutral statements while sober. Fifteen minutes later they consumed alcohol or active placebo (1.0 or 0.1 ml/kg) in an environment with minimal retrograde interference. In surprise memory testing 24 hr later, when participants were again sober, the alcohol group had increased recall across statement type. The alcohol group also had better recognition of depressing and elating statements, but recognition of neutral statements did not differ between groups. Findings suggest alcohol produced a nonspecific enhancement of incidental memory and that alcohol's motivational properties were not implicated.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology*
  • Breath Tests
  • Central Nervous System Depressants / blood
  • Central Nervous System Depressants / metabolism
  • Cognition / drug effects
  • Emotions / drug effects*
  • Ethanol / blood
  • Ethanol / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Learning / drug effects
  • Male
  • Memory / drug effects*
  • Mental Recall / drug effects
  • Motivation
  • Psychomotor Performance / drug effects
  • Regression Analysis


  • Central Nervous System Depressants
  • Ethanol