The effects of dehydration, moderate alcohol consumption, and rehydration on cognitive functions

C. Irwin, M. Leveritt, Ho Keung David Shum, B. Desbrow

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


This study investigated the impact of mild-moderate dehydration on alcohol-induced deteriorations in cognitive functions. Sixteen healthy males participated in a single-blind, placebo-controlled cross-over design study involving 4 experimental trials (separated by ?7 d). In each trial, participants were dehydrated by 2.5% body mass through exercise. After 1 h recovery in a thermo-neutral environment (22 ± 2 °C, 60-70% relative humidity) 4 tasks from the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB) were administered to the participants (test 1). In two of the trials, participants were provided with water equivalent to either 50% or 150% body mass loss and given salt (NaCl) capsules (50 mmol/L). A set volume of alcohol or placebo was then consumed in each trial, incorporating the conditions: dehydration-placebo (DP), dehydration-alcohol (DA), partial rehydration-alcohol (PA), and full rehydration-alcohol (FA). The same 4 CANTAB tasks were then re-administered (test 2). Subjective ratings of mood and estimates of alcohol intoxication and driving impairment were also recorded in each trial. Alcohol consumption caused deterioration on 3 of the 4 CANTAB measures (viz., choice reaction time, executive function and response inhibition). This reduction in performance was exacerbated when participants were dehydrated compared to trials where full rehydration occurred. Subjective ratings of impairment and intoxication were not significantly different between any of the trials where alcohol was consumed; however ratings for alcohol trials were significantly higher than in the placebo trial. These findings suggest that rehydration after exercise that causes fluid loss can attenuate alcohol-related deterioration of cognitive functions. This may pose implications for post match fluid replacement if a moderate amount of alcohol is also consumed. © 2013 Elsevier Inc.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-213
Number of pages11
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Cognitive performance
  • Ethanol
  • Hypohydration
  • Rehydration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • General Medicine
  • Biochemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Neurology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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