Effect of alcohol on the sense of agency in healthy humans

De Pirro, Silvana, Lush, Peter, Parkinson, Jim, Duka, Theodora, Critchley, Hugo D and Badiani, Aldo (2019) Effect of alcohol on the sense of agency in healthy humans. Addiction Biology. ISSN 1355-6215

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Even at low to moderate doses, ingestion of the widely used recreational drug alcohol (ethanol) can impact cognitive and emotional processing. Recent studies show that the sense of agency (SoA; ie, the subjective experience of voluntary control over actions) can be modulated by specific pharmacological manipulations. The SoA, as quantified by the intentional binding (IB) paradigm, is enhanced by direct or indirect dopaminergic agonists in patients with Parkinson's disease and by ketamine (an N‐methyl‐D‐aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist) in healthy individuals. These findings implicate dopaminergic and glutamatergic neurotransmission in mechanisms underlying SoA. Alcohol has a complex set of actions, including disinhibition of dopaminergic neurotransmission and allosteric antagonism at NMDA receptors. Here, we tested the hypothesis that low to moderate doses of alcohol would enhance SoA, and impact impulsivity and subjective emotional state. We conducted two experiments in 59 healthy male and female social drinkers, who ingested either a placebo “vehicle,” or one of two doses of ethanol: 0.4 and 0.6 g/kg. In both experiments, we observed increased SoA/IB at both doses of alcohol exposure, relative to the placebo condition. We found no correlation between the effects of alcohol on IB and on impulsivity or subjective emotional state. Our findings might have implications for social and legal responsibility related to alcohol use, particularly in states prior to overt intoxication. Further studies are necessary to investigate the effects of alcohol and other addictive substances on the SoA.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Ethanol; alcohol; affect; impulsivity; intoxication; sense of agency
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Depositing User: Sanjeedah Choudhury
Date Deposited: 17 May 2019 09:25
Last Modified: 20 Jun 2020 01:00
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/83818

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