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An investigation into the effects of acute alcohol on the inhibitory mechanisms of control involved in visual perception

O'Brien, Claire Elizabeth (2010)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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Abstract

The impairing effects of alcohol on attention are well documented, and there is reason to believe that inhibitory mechanisms may be involved although the specific nature of the impairment is unclear. Research suggests that intentional control mechanisms might be more vulnerable to alcohol, although the evidence is not conclusive. Ambiguous figures provide a novel way to assess these processes, as attention needs to be directed towards one interpretation and away from the alternate interpretation, which must be inhibited. The contribution of both intentional and automatic mechanisms can also be assessed by consciously controlling reversals or reporting them under passive viewing conditions. The results do not support the alcohol myopia model as alcohol had a facilitatory effect on reversals. Instead, the results seem to be broadly in line with an alcohol-induced impairment on intentional inhibitory processes, although the results are not straightforward. Alcohol does not result in more figure reversals being reported simply because inhibition is weakened. Its effect on reversals seems to depend upon the precise nature, the relative, and the absolute strengths of the two interpretations of the stimulus presented and is dependent upon the specific experimental conditions. These findings are clearly contrary to a simple account based on reduced inhibition.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Higgs, Suzanne and Harris, Mike
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Life & Environmental Sciences
Department:School of Psychology
Subjects:BF Psychology
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:1038
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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