The influence of alcohol and cognitive capacity on visual number judgements

Alistair Harvey, Molly Seedhouse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Downloads (Pure)


We used an enumeration task to address the question of whether acute alcohol intoxication reduces cognitive or perceptual capacity. To control for individual differences in cognitive resources we took a sober record of each participant’s working memory capacity (WMC). Alcohol was expected to impair enumeration accuracy, either for the automatic parallel counting of small stimulus sets indicating a perceptual impairment, or the controlled counting or estimating of larger sets indicating a cognitive impairment. Enumeration performance showed an overall decline in accuracy following a vodka beverage and the deficit was negligible for small sets, which is inconsistent with a loss of perceptual capacity. Having a higher WMC facilitated the enumeration of larger sets and the correlation between WMC and accuracy was stronger in the alcohol condition suggesting that low-WMC participants were more impaired by the beverage. Our findings therefore suggest that alcohol diminished cognitive rather than perceptual capacity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-51
Number of pages13
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jan 2021


  • acute alcohol
  • intoxication
  • visual attention
  • working memory capacity
  • operation span
  • perceptual capacity
  • enumeration
  • subitising


Dive into the research topics of 'The influence of alcohol and cognitive capacity on visual number judgements'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this