Response of saccadic eye movements to alcohol in African American and non-Hispanic white college students

T. Blekher, J. D. Beard, S. O'Connor, W. E. Orr, V. A. Ramchandani, K. Miller, R. D. Yee, T. K. Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Scopus citations


Background: The primary goal of this study was to evaluate how race and sex interact with the effects of a moderate dose of alcohol on different ocular control subsystems in African American (AA) and non-Hispanic white American (WA) college students. Methods: Horizontal visually guided (VG) saccades and antisaccades (AS) of 80 young adult, healthy, AA and WA college students were recorded with an infrared system. Subjects ingested 10 aliquots of ethanol at 3 min intervals, with the aggregate dose precalculated to yield a peak breath alcohol concentration (BrAC) of 80 mg%. Data from the measures performed at baseline and the ascending and descending limbs of the BrAC at -65 mg% were compared across race and sex by multivariate analysis of variance. A no-alcohol control session, performed in 20 of the subjects, documented test-retest reliability of the VG and AS measurements. Results: Both AA and WA groups demonstrated slowing of AS and VG saccades after alcohol administration, but there was no significant effect of 65 mg% alcohol on VG accuracy or AS errors. AS latency recovered toward baseline values, whereas the slowing of VG latency/velocity progressed, during alcohol exposure. There were significant differences between AA and WA groups in the time course of VG latency after alcohol but not in most other dependent measures. No significant effects for sex were observed in any of the saccade measures. The faster disappearance of alcohol in WA compared with AA was replicated, and some measures demonstrated a significant, albeit small, negative correlation between the alcohol disappearance rate and impairing effects of alcohol on saccades. Conclusions: Prolonged latencies and unchanged percentage of errors reflect a differential effect of alcohol on neural function in specific areas (parietal eye field, superior colliculus, and frontal eye areas). Race may interact with the effect of ethanol on saccadic eye movements in a college student population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)232-238
Number of pages7
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002


  • Alcohol/Ethanol
  • Race
  • Saccades
  • Sex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology

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