Some effects of alcohol and eye movements on cross-race face learning

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This study examines the impact of acute alcohol intoxication on visual scanning in cross-race face learning. The eye movements of a group of white British participants were recorded as they encoded a series of own-and different-race faces, under alcohol and placebo conditions. Intoxication reduced the rate and extent of visual scanning during face encoding, reorienting the focus of foveal attention away from the eyes and towards the nose. Differences in encoding eye movements also varied between own-and different-race face conditions as a function of alcohol. Fixations to both face types were less frequent and more lingering following intoxication, but in the placebo condition this was only the case for different-race faces. While reducing visual scanning, however, alcohol had no adverse effect on memory, only encoding restrictions associated with sober different-race face processing led to poorer recognition. These results support perceptual expertise accounts of own-race face processing, but suggest the adverse effects of alcohol on face learning published previously are not caused by foveal encoding restrictions. The implications of these findings for alcohol myopia theory are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1126-1138
Number of pages13
Issue number8
Early online date14 Jan 2014
Publication statusPublished - 17 Nov 2014
Externally publishedYes


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