The Effect of Alcohol on the Nature of Lexical Representations in Different Taste Domains

Maria Baskini, Hariklia Sotirios Proios


Moderate alcohol consumption may be involved in cognitive feedback mechanisms (Hofmann & Friese, 2008), participants execute verbal fluency test (VFT) better (Cerhan et al., 1998) and there is positive association between sweet taste and excessive alcohol intake (Lange, Kampov-Polevoy, & Garbutt, 2010). We investigate the immediate pharmacological consequences of moderate to light alcohol consumption in verbal fluency and categorical sorting within the different taste domains (i.e. sweet, salty, sour and bitter). Our hypothesis is that subjects under the influence of light to moderate alcohol will produce more items in the sweet domain. 53 healthy adults had moderate alcohol consumption and were compared in two semantic tasks to 53 adults, who did not drink alcohol. Mann-Whitney U tests showed that the total number of clusters, switches, and repetitions were equal between the two groups in all taste domains (p-values: .211, .401, and .684 respectively). The number of responses in the alcohol group generated more disinhibiting intrusive words during the VFTs as compared to
the control group (p-value: <.001). VFTs and the order of taste preference in the card-sorting task showed positive correlation and agreement. Light to moderate alcohol did not affect verbal fluency. However, participants under the influence of alcohol generated significantly more errors in the VFTs that were emotionally laden. This corroborates with research that certain emotions are innervated with taste domains. This leaves open question about the effects of alcohol on decision making in eating and executive functions as they relate to lexical representations.


taste domains; alcohol; verbal fluency task; executive function; eating behavior

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