Effects of ethanol and auditory distraction on forced choice reaction time

Iiro P. Jääskeläinen, Kimmo Alho, Carles Escera, István Winkler, Pekka Sillanaukee, Risto Näätänen

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33 Citations (Scopus)


Effects of ethanol (0.55 g/kg) and auditory distraction on visual forced choice reaction time (RT) were investigated in 10 healthy social drinkers, using a single-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover design. Subjects were to respond by pressing a button either with their right-hand index or middle finger, depending on whether an odd or an even digit was presented on a PC screen. In control blocks, the digits were presented alone, whereas in distraction blocks they were shortly preceded by either a frequent 'standard' tone of 600 Hz, or an infrequent tone that was either a 660 Hz 'deviant' tone or a 'novel' sound (e.g., telephone ringing). Alcohol reduced the hit rate by increasing the amount of errors, but had no effect on the RT, thus supporting the previous observations. In the placebo condition, the RT was prolonged by the deviant and novel sounds, and the hit rate was reduced by the deviant tones. During ethanol intoxication, however, the reduction in hit rate caused by the deviant tones was significantly smaller. This suggests that the attention-capturing effects of the deviant sounds were suppressed by ethanol, thus demonstrating a detrimental effect of ethanol on involuntary attention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-156
Number of pages4
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 1996


  • Alcohol
  • Auditory distraction
  • Ethanol
  • Forced choice reaction time
  • Involuntary attention switch
  • Passive attention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Biochemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Neurology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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    Jääskeläinen, I. P., Alho, K., Escera, C., Winkler, I., Sillanaukee, P., & Näätänen, R. (1996). Effects of ethanol and auditory distraction on forced choice reaction time. Alcohol, 13(2), 153-156. https://doi.org/10.1016/0741-8329(95)02027-6