Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract A battery of psychomotor tasks and physiological measures was administered to 206 pairs of twins before alcohol and then three times at hourly intervals after they ingested a standard dose of ethanol (0.75 g/kg body weight). Repeat measurements were obtained for 41 of these pairs on a second occasion. Performance on motor coordination, standing steadiness, pursuit rotor, arithmetic computation, and reaction-time tasks deteriorated after alcohol, but decrements on the five tasks were generally independent of each other. Measurements of blood pressure, pulse rate, and skin temperature were all elevated following alcohol intake, but these responses were also uncorrelated. The variance in many of these measures increased after alcohol. An analysis of covariance structure revealed that most of this additional variance exposed by alcohol was genetic in origin, particularly for standing steadiness, pursuit rotor, arithmetic computation, and pulse rate. Up to 50% of the variance in body sway after alcohol was estimated to be due to genetic factors expressed only under the influence of alcohol. Although significant correlations were found with blood alcohol concentration, previous drinking experience, and the personality trait Extraversion, little of the genetic variance exposed by alcohol could be explained by these predictors. It is concluded that the sources of the considerable genetic variation affecting performance under alcohol must be sought elsewhere.
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