Combined effects of alcohol and caffeine on the late components of the event-related potential and on reaction time

Frances Heritage Martin, Joshua Garfield

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The effects of .7 ml/kg alcohol and 200 mg caffeine on the P200, N200, P300 and N500 difference wave components of the event-related potential and on reaction time (RT) were examined in 16 females who performed both simple and choice RT tasks. Alcohol slowed the decision time (DT) component of reaction time, lengthened the latency of the P200 and P300 components, reduced N200 amplitude, increased P300 amplitude at parietal sites, and modified the effect of sagittal site on N500 difference wave peak amplitude. Caffeine shortened DT in the choice RT task, shortened N200 latency at right hemisphere sites, and shortened N200 latency in the choice RT task in combination with alcohol compared to when alcohol was administered alone. Caffeine also increased P300 amplitude in the choice RT task and reduced the integral of the N500 difference wave at most sites when combined with alcohol. It was concluded that whereas alcohol slows attention allocation and impairs working memory, caffeine accelerated response-related decisions and enhanced cortical arousal.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-73
Number of pages11
JournalBiological Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2006


  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • ERPs
  • RT

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