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

O'Brien, Claire Elizabeth (2010). An investigation into the effects of acute alcohol on the inhibitory mechanisms of control involved in visual perception. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.


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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: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Life & Environmental Sciences
School or Department: School of Psychology
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology


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