Principles And Pitfalls in Alcohol Toxicity, Part 6

Auto AccidentReaction Time

Since alcohol is a general central nervous system depressant, it affects a wide range of functions. Some of the most basic performance tasks which were studied in relation to alcohol are reaction time parity. Interestingly enough the majority of studies have shown no effects or minimal effects on reaction time (1,2). All studies have shown that alcohol affects the tracking performance time, and that there is significant evidence of impaired tracking performance with blood alcohol content above 50 mg/100 ml. (3,4,5,6) Therefore, simple reaction time would not be the test to assess whether an individual is impaired by alcohol or not. Dual task performance is sensitive to the affects of alcohol, and has been shown to be impaired (7) Accident statistics consistently show that crash risk in the increased significantly when BACs are above 40 mg/100 ml. Several studies with automobile simulators have shown that risk taking is affected only at very high levels of alcohol described as 106 mg/100 ml (8).
1. Morgan Jones, Ben; Vega, Arthur; “Original Investigations. Cognitive Performance Measured on the Ascending and Descending Limb of the Blood Alcohol Curve*” . Psychopharmacologia (Berl) 23, 99-114; 1972.
2. Karch, Steven B. Drug Abuse Handbook Steven B. Karch, editor. CRC Press 1997 pgs.1152
3. Linnoila; M, Erwin; C.W. Ramm; D. Cleveland, W.P. “Effects of age and alcohol on psychomotor performance of men”. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 41, 488. 1980
4. Connors, G.J.; Maisto, S.A. “Effects of alcohol instructions and consumption rate on motor performance.” Journal of Studies on Alcohol 41, 509. 1980.
5. Maylor, E.A; Rabbitt, P.M.; Connolly, S.A. “Rate of processing and judgment of response speed: comparing the effects of alcohol and practice.” Perception and Psychophysics. 45, 431. 1989.
6. Moskowitz, H.; Burns, M.M.; Williams, A.F. “Skilled performance at low blood alcohol levels.” Journal of Studies on Alcohol. 46, 482. 1985.
7. Steele, C.M.; Josephs, R.A. “Drinking your troubles away: II. An attention-allocation model of alcohol�s effects on stress.” Journal of Abnormal Psychology. 97, 196. 1988.
8. Mongrain, S.; Standing, L “Impairment of cognition, risk-taking, and self-perception by alcohol”. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 69, 19. 1974.

About Nachman Brautbar, M.D., F.A.C.P.

Experienced in internal medicine, toxicology, occupational medicine, alcohol, drugs, and nephrology, with a specialization in toxicology; evaluation, analysis & interpretation of urine drug/alcohol tests; drug/alcohol concentrations in the blood; findings in blood and urine samples; assessment of driving under the influence. His list of academic appointments includes Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Medicine, and Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of Southern California, School of Medicine. Dr. Brautbar is a peer reviewer for the Department of Human Health Services, earlier Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). Dr. Brautbar has been on the faculty of the National Judicial College and has lectured to judges on the issue of scientific evidence. He has been a visiting professor at national and international scientific institutions and centers such as Yale, Harvard, Mayo Clinic, and NIH. Dr. Brautbar is a fellow of the Collegium Ramazzini. Dr. Brautbar has testified in the California State Senate and the United States Senate on toxic groundwater contamination.

No comments yet... Be the first to leave a reply!