Next day effects of naturalistic alcohol consumption on tasks of attention


A. McKinney, School of Psychology, University of Ulster, Magee Campus, Northland Road, Derry, Northern Ireland, BT48 7JL. Tel: 02871375117. E-mail:



The aim of this study was to examine the next day effects of alcohol consumption on a range of attention tasks.


The study followed a counterbalanced repeated measure design, with participants tested the morning following normal/usual alcohol consumption and again the morning after no alcohol consumption. Participants were 48 social drinkers (15 men and 33 women), who performed attention tests at 9 am, 11 am, or 1 pm. Performance was assessed by tasks measuring sustained attention, divided attention, selective attention, and spatial attention and by the Stroop test.


The morning after alcohol consumption, a significantly higher proportion of missed targets was observed (F(1, 40) = 6.43, p < 0.05) in the sustained attention task. In the Stroop test, participants responded significantly slower (F(1, 42) = 8.72, p < 0.005) in the interference condition (when naming the color of the ink of the words) the morning after alcohol consumption. In the selective attention task, the consumption of alcohol the night before eliminated the robust distance by compatibility interaction, which was observed the morning after no alcohol consumption (F(1, 43) = 10.41, p < 0.01). No influence of alcohol was observed in the divided attention test nor in the spatial attention task.


Alcohol consumption has a negative impact on some but not all facets of attentional processing the morning after a normal nights drinking. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.