Memory deficits in alcoholics are a common clinical and research finding. The specific cognitive components of these deficits remain to be identified. A cognitive theoretical model, after Tariot and Weingarten, is proposed as a promising approach to the problem. This model postulates two memory stores. The first, episodic memory, is involved in the storage and use of contextually bound information. The second, knowledge memory, is involved in the storage and use of logic, meaning and structural relationships such as are involved in abstracting and problem-solving. Our model identifies three processes that characterize retrieval from the two stores: accessibility, availability and, what we term """"""""efficiency."""""""" Thirteen studies are presented to address specific hypotheses and questions regarding possible alcoholics impairment within each of the processes for episodic memory (Exp. 1-6) and knowledge memory (Exp. 7-13). Measures of childhood and residual adult attention deficit disorders, family history of alcoholism, gender and stage of menstrual cycle in females are variables that will be examined for possible effects on differences in memory performance between alcoholics and controls. The project will be conducted in three phases. Phase 1-A, Episodic Memory, will use 48 alcoholics and 40 controls for Exps. 1, 2, and 6. Phase 1-B will use new samples of 48 alcoholics and 40 controls to perform Exps. 7- 13. All samples will be balanced for gender and family history of alcoholism. Alcoholics will be recruited from treatment programs in the community and will be diagnosed by DSM-III-R or NCAA criteria. Controls will be recruited from community sources. All subjects will be screened for any medical or psychiatric condition (other than alcoholism) that could affect memory. Subjects will be tested in our laboratories and paid upon completion of the testing. Dependent variables for the various studies, include measures of accuracy, number and type of errors, reaction times and, in two experiments, electrophysiological measures associated with cognitive processes. The results will contribute to the scientific literature by using a specific cognitive model to identify quantitative and qualitative differences in memory functions between alcoholics and controls and by the consideration of the possible effects of attention, gender and family history of alcoholism variables in the results.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Research Project (R01)
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Biochemistry, Physiology and Medicine Subcommittee (ALCB)
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University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center
Schools of Medicine
Oklahoma City
United States
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