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Effect of alcohol on the sense of agency in healthy humans.

Authors
  • De Pirro, Silvana1, 2, 3
  • Lush, Peter1, 4
  • Parkinson, Jim4
  • Duka, Theodora1, 2
  • Critchley, Hugo D1, 2, 4
  • Badiani, Aldo1, 2, 3
  • 1 Sussex Addiction Research and Intervention Centre (SARIC), School of Psychology, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK.
  • 2 Sussex Neuroscience, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK.
  • 3 Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy. , (Italy)
  • 4 Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK.
Type
Published Article
Journal
Addiction Biology
Publisher
Wiley (Blackwell Publishing)
Publication Date
Jul 01, 2020
Volume
25
Issue
4
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1111/adb.12796
PMID: 31222868
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

Even at low to moderate doses, ingestion of the widely used recreational drug alcohol (ethanol) can impact cognitive and emotional processing. Recent studies show that the sense of agency (SoA; ie, the subjective experience of voluntary control over actions) can be modulated by specific pharmacological manipulations. The SoA, as quantified by the intentional binding (IB) paradigm, is enhanced by direct or indirect dopaminergic agonists in patients with Parkinson's disease and by ketamine (an N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist) in healthy individuals. These findings implicate dopaminergic and glutamatergic neurotransmission in mechanisms underlying SoA. Alcohol has a complex set of actions, including disinhibition of dopaminergic neurotransmission and allosteric antagonism at NMDA receptors. Here, we tested the hypothesis that low to moderate doses of alcohol would enhance SoA, and impact impulsivity and subjective emotional state. We conducted two experiments in 59 healthy male and female social drinkers, who ingested either a placebo "vehicle," or one of two doses of ethanol: 0.4 and 0.6 g/kg. In both experiments, we observed increased SoA/IB at both doses of alcohol exposure, relative to the placebo condition. We found no correlation between the effects of alcohol on IB and on impulsivity or subjective emotional state. Our findings might have implications for social and legal responsibility related to alcohol use, particularly in states prior to overt intoxication. Further studies are necessary to investigate the effects of alcohol and other addictive substances on the SoA. © 2019 Society for the Study of Addiction.

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