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January 1974

Alcoholic "Blackout": State Dependent Learning?

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1974;30(1):46-53. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1974.01760070030005

In an attempt to elucidate alcoholic "blackout," both state-dependent learning and short-term memory were examined during prolonged experimental intoxication. Various memory tasks were administered to four chronic alcoholics during two seven-day drinking episodes which alternated with three five-day periods of enforced sobriety.

While all Ss demonstrated short-term and 24-hour memory impairments, these deficits did not appear to be a function of state-dependent learning. Rather, consolidation and, less often, retrieval failures were largely responsible for these impairments. Finally, short-term memory was not differentially impaired when measured on the ascending vs the descending limb of blood alcohol.