Application of an alcohol clamp paradigm to examine inhibitory control, subjective responses, and acute tolerance in late adolescence

Christian S. Hendershot, Jeffrey D. Wardell, Nicole M. Strang, Mike S.D. Markovich, Eric D. Claus, Vijay A. Ramchandani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Individual differences in acute alcohol effects on cognitive control and subjective responses-and acute tolerance to these effects-are implicated in the risk for heavy drinking and alcohol-related harms. Few studies have examined these effects in drinkers under age 21. Additionally, studies of acute tolerance typically involve bolus oral alcohol administration, such that estimates of tolerance are confounded with blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limb. The current study examined cognitive control and subjective responses in young heavy drinkers (n = 88; M = 19.8 years old, SD = 0.8) during a single-session alcohol clamp protocol. Participants completed an intravenous alcohol session comprising an ascending limb (0 to 80 mg% in 20 min) and a BAC plateau (80 mg% for 80 min). Serial assessments included a cued go/no-go task and measures of stimulation, sedation, and craving. Relevant individual difference factors (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder [ADHD] symptoms and sensation seeking) were examined as moderators. Multilevel modeling demonstrated that response inhibition worsened following initial rise in BAC and showed increasing impairment during the BAC plateau. ADHD symptoms and sensation seeking moderated this effect. Significant within-person associations between stimulation and craving were evident on the ascending limb only. Participants with higher ADHD symptoms reported steeper increases in stimulation during the ascending limb. These findings provide initial information about subjective and behavioral responses during pseudoconstant BAC, and potential moderators of these outcomes, in late adolescence. Additional studies with placebo-controlled designs are necessary to confirm these findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-158
Number of pages12
JournalExperimental and clinical psychopharmacology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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