The impact of expectancy on cognitive performance during alcohol hangover

Devenney, Lydia; Coyle, Kieran B. and Verster, Joris C. (2018). The impact of expectancy on cognitive performance during alcohol hangover. BMC Research Notes, 11, article no. 730.



Objective: Knowing the purpose of a clinical study may provoke expectancies among subjects that may influence the study outcome. For example, expectancies about a drug effect may cause subjects to put in more effort to counteract these effects on performance tasks, or cause stress or other mood alterations in anticipation of expected adverse effects. The objective of this study was to investigate to what extent expectancy effects will influence the magnitude of cognitive performance decrement in the alcohol hangover state.
Results: Forty subjects with a mean (SD) age of 24.0 (7.4) years old participated in a naturalistic study to examine the alcohol hangover effects on cognitive performance. Subjects in the expectancy group were informed of the purpose of the study. In the control group subjects were told that the purpose of the study was to investigate the effects of time of day on cognitive performance. Subjects consumed a mean (SD) of 12.9 (10.0) alcoholic drinks the night before testing. Cognitive tests included the Stroop test, Eriksen’s flanker test, a divided attention test, intra-extra dimensional set shifting test, spatial working memory test, and free word recall test. Expectancy effects did not differentially affect cognitive performance in the alcohol hangover state.

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