Gender differences in acute psychomotor, cognitive, and pharmacokinetic response to alcohol

Raymond S. Niaura, Peter E. Nathan, William Frankenstein, Allan P. Shapiro, John Brick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study investigated gender differences in acute response to alcohol. After practicing several cognitive and psychomotor tasks while sober, male (n = 11) and female (n= 13) social drinkers were administered a 0.65 g/kg dose of ethanol. Subjects were tested on both the ascending and descending limbs of the blood alcohol curve on measures of divided attention, short-term memory, body sway, pursuit tracking ability, and subjective level of intoxication. Blood alcohol level (BAL) was sampled frequently throughout the procedure. Females achieved consistently higher BALs than did males throughout, due mainly to higher BALs among women in the middle stage of the menstrual cycle. Women not using birth control medications also attained higher BALs than did males. When gender differences in BALs were controlled statistically, only memory functioning distinguished the groups: males recovered memory functioning more quickly on the descending limb of the blood alcohol curve than did females. Stage of menstrual cycle or use of birth control medications did not influence psychomotor or cognitive performance while women were intoxicated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)345-356
Number of pages12
JournalAddictive Behaviors
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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