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Effects of alcohol and extended practice on divided-attention performance.

Authors
  • Maylor, E A
  • Rabbitt, P M
  • James, G H
  • Kerr, S A
Type
Published Article
Journal
Perception & psychophysics
Publication Date
Nov 01, 1990
Volume
48
Issue
5
Pages
445–452
Identifiers
PMID: 2247327
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

The effects of alcohol and extended practice on divided attention were investigated using a visual tracking task and an auditory detection task. Subjects performed the tasks with and without alcohol, under single-task (S) and dual-task (D) conditions, both before and after they had received extended practice under single-task conditions without alcohol. Tracking accuracy improved with practice and was impaired under divided-attention conditions but was not affected by alcohol. Speed of detection was impaired by alcohol, improved by practice, and impaired by divided attention. Extended practice did not reduce the influence of alcohol. The effects of both alcohol and practice on speed of detection were significantly greater under dual-task conditions than under single-task conditions. Analysis of detection-task reaction times in terms of relative divided-attention costs, (D-S)/S, showed no effect of alcohol, but a highly significant reduction in costs with extended practice. It is concluded that (1) alcohol and practice can have quantitatively, but not qualitatively, similar effects on speeded performance, and (2) the effect of alcohol is not influenced by the attentional requirements of the task.

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