In an attempt to elucidate alcoholic "blackout," both state-dependent learning and short-term memory were examined during prolonged experimental intoxication. Various memory tasks were administered to four chronic alcoholics during two seven-day drinking episodes which alternated with three five-day periods of enforced sobriety.
While all Ss demonstrated short-term and 24-hour memory impairments, these deficits did not appear to be a function of state-dependent learning. Rather, consolidation and, less often, retrieval failures were largely responsible for these impairments. Finally, short-term memory was not differentially impaired when measured on the ascending vs the descending limb of blood alcohol.