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June 1, 1970

Alcohol Amnesia

Author Affiliations

USAF Brooks Air Force Base, Tex

JAMA. 1970;212(9):1524. doi:10.1001/jama.1970.03170220078020

To the Editor.—  Recent research on alcohol and memory, utilizing the threefold classification of memory function,1 indicates that there are two forms of alcohol amnesia.2-4 In the first form the patient or subject can recall what occurred under the influence of alcohol only if he is again placed in the same intoxicated state, or if the physician describes and discusses what occurred. The subject may then respond, "Yes, now I remember it," and go on to add more details spontaneously.2 This form of alcohol amnesia is called state-dependent learning, or the idea that information learned under the effects of alcohol can best be remembered in the same drug state and is poorly or not remembered in the nondrug state. This form of alcohol amnesia has been demonstrated in animals4-6 and man.7,8 Interestingly, the blood alcohol concentrations necessary to produce state-dependent learning in man7,8 have