Acute alcohol effects on impulsive choice in adolescents.

Bernhardt, Nadine; Obst, Elisabeth; Nebe, Stephan; Pooseh, Shakoor; Wurst, Friedrich M; Weinmann, Wolfgang; Smolka, Michael N; Zimmermann, Ulrich S (2019). Acute alcohol effects on impulsive choice in adolescents. Journal of psychopharmacology, 33(3), pp. 316-325. Sage Publications 10.1177/0269881118822063

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Neurodevelopmental and alcohol-induced changes in decision-making have been proposed to critically influence impulsive behaviour in adolescents.


This study tested the influence of acute alcohol administration on impulsive choice in adolescents.


Fifty-four males aged 18-19 years were tested in a single-blind placebo-controlled cross-over design. During alcohol administration (infusion resulting in an arterial blood alcohol concentration of 80 mg%) and placebo condition (saline infusion), participants performed a task battery providing estimates of delay discounting, probability discounting for gains, for losses and loss aversion, and also rated subjectively experienced alcohol effects. Additionally, baseline alcohol consumption (Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test, blood phosphatidylethanol levels), motives (Drinking Motive Questionnaire, Alcohol Expectancy Questionnaire and Obsessive Compulsive Drinking Scale), family history and self-report measures of impulsivity (Barratt Impulsiveness Scale, Substance Use Risk Profile Scale) were provided.


No overall effects of treatment on choice behaviour were found. However, individual differences were observed. In the alcohol condition, more impulsive choice tendencies for delay discounting were associated with higher subjectively experienced alcohol effects. Further, higher risk aversion for probabilistic gains and higher loss aversion during alcohol condition were related to higher levels of real-life alcohol consumption and a family history of alcohol problems, respectively. Finally, the time to make a decision was substantially shortened for choices involving negative prospects.


Contrary to common beliefs, acute alcohol intoxication did not generally incite impulsive decision-making. It rather appears that alcohol-induced behavioural changes in adolescents vary considerably depending on prior experiences and subjective effects of alcohol.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Service Sector > Institute of Legal Medicine > Forensic Chemistry and Toxicology
04 Faculty of Medicine > Service Sector > Institute of Legal Medicine

UniBE Contributor:

Weinmann, Wolfgang


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health




Sage Publications




Antoinette Angehrn

Date Deposited:

26 Feb 2019 16:33

Last Modified:

07 Mar 2019 01:32

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Computer-assisted Alcohol Infusion System (CAIS) adolescence decision-making discounting loss aversion risk


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