I am looking for some references on the short term effects of alcohol on "IQ". I am particularly interested in what aspects of "intelligence" is affected (e.g., cognition/reasoning/memory). Essentially, I am looking for studies that compare performance while sober and drunk in moderate drinkers.


In Maylor, E. A., Rabbitt, P. , James, G. H. and Kerr, S. A.. (1990) Comparing the effects of alcohol and intelligence on text recall and recognition. British Journal of Psychology, Vol.81 (No.3). pp. 299-313.

Forty male subjects were divided into two groups on the basis of their scores on a computerized intelligence test administered in a preliminary session. They then participated in a text recall and recognition experiment in which they received alcohol (1.0 ml/kg body weight) in one session and no alcohol in another session (the order being counterbalanced). Subjects were required to read a short passage, immediately recall as much of it as possible and then select from sets of four sentences the ones that appeared in the original passage (recognition). Although two different passages were used, and subjects knew about the memory tasks in advance, there was nevertheless a significant practice effect: subjects recalled 10.6 per cent more propositions on the second occasion than on the first, but this could be at least partly explained by the fact that they spent 10.0 per cent longer reading the second passage. There was also a significant 7.8 per cent slowing of reading time due to alcohol. Practice did not interact with either intelligence or alcohol on any measure of performance. Alcohol impaired the performance of high intelligence test scorers more than low scorers.

Pihl, R. O., Peterson, J. B., and Lau, M. A., (1993) A biosocial model of the alcohol-aggression relationship. in Journal of Studies on Alcohol, Supplement, (11), pp. 128–139 reported results from human subject experimentation showing that alcohol affects cortical functioning and reduces the ability to deal with threatening or novel occurrences.


This is not a complete answer, but Abbey et al (2006) might be a good starting point. They summarise some literature:

Recent research has focused on alcohol's effects on executive cognitive functioning (ECF) and the capacity to plan, initiate, and alter goal-directed behavior (Bartholow et al., 2003; Curtin and Fairchild, 2003; Giancola, 2004). Acute alcohol consumption impedes response inhibition, particularly when the task requires suppression of a compelling, predominant response (Abroms et al., 2003; Curtin and Fairchild, 2003; Fillmore et al., 2000).


  • Abbey, A., Saenz, C., Buck, P. O., Parkhill, M. R., & Hayman Jr, L. W. (2006). The effects of acute alcohol consumption, cognitive reserve, partner risk, and gender on sexual decision making. Journal of studies on alcohol, 67(1), 113-121. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4477198/

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