Investigation of the “Hangover” Effects of an Acute Dose of Alcohol on Psychomotor Performance


  • This study was supported by the Federal Office of Road Safety, Canberra, Australia.

Jim Lemon, Ph.D., National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales, P. O. Box 1, Kensington, NSW 2033 Australia.


Performance on some complex and difficult tasks has been shown to be negatively affected for some time after an acute dose of alcohol has been cleared from the system. However, Dauncey reported impairment of a relatively simple reaction time task 3 hr after a dose of alcohol, when the blood alcohol concentration was at or near 0. This impairment was positively related to the subject's drinking history. A replication using the same task found a linear dose/impairment relationship during intoxication. A second simple reaction time task and a vigilance task showed a trend toward impairment, but only a divided attention task was significantly affected during intoxication. There was no significant effect of dose on any of these tests during a “morning after” session. The results are discussed in relation to the differences in method between Dauncey and this study.