Behavioral Dysfunction and Cognitive Efficiency in Male and Female Alcoholics


  • This work was supported in part by Grants K21 AAOOI34-04 and ROI-AA08650 from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism [to J.N. (PI)]. This work was also supported through the cooperative efforts of the Veterans Administration Medical Center (Oklahoma City, OK); the Norman Alcohol and Drug Treatment Center (Norman, OK); the Hillcrest Health Center Behavioral Medicine Unit (Oklahoma City, OK); St. Anthony Hospital START Program (Oklahoma City, OK); and Valley Hope Treatment Facilities (Cushing and At-dmore, OK).

Reprint requests: Sara Jo Nixon, Ph.D., Center for Alcohol and Drug Related Studies, 800 NE 15th Street, Suite 410, Oklahoma City, OK 73104.


This study was conducted to examine the role of childhood behavioral disorders (CBDs) and residual attention deficit disorder (AD-DRT) in alcohol-related cognitive dysfunction in male and female subjects. Alcoholic (n = 44 females, 56 males) and control (n = 40 females, 40 males) subjects completed assessments that included measures of CBDs, ADDRT, and cognitive and psychosocial functioning. Cognitive tests were specifically designed to assess efficiency in function. As expected, alcoholics were inferior to controls in their cognitive efficiency [F(1,171) = 10.43, p = 0.0015]. Alcoholics reported more CBDs [F(1,161) = 12.02, p = 0.0007], regardless of sex. They also reported more ADDRT [F(1,173) = 44.12, p = O.OOOl] than did controls. There were also sex [F(l,173) = 13.31, p = 0.0004] and group by sex effects [F(1,173) = 3.93, p = 0.051. Female alcoholics reported more ADDRT symptoms than any other group. Regression equations conducted to clarify the relation between group, sex, CBDs, ADDRT, and cognitive efficiency indicated that the best predictor of cognitive efficiency was group classification (alcoholic versus control). That is, although symptoms of behavioral disorders were reported significantly more frequently by both male and female alcoholic subjects, these symptoms could not account for the cognitive impairment observed in either sex.