Dose Effects of Triazolam and Alcohol on Cognitive Performance in Healthy Volunteers

Bethea A. Kleykamp, Roland R Griffiths, Miriam Z. Mintzer


Benzodiazepines and alcohol are widely used psychoactive substances that have performance-impairing effects. Research suggests that the impairment profiles for benzodiazepines and alcohol differ, although few cognitive psychopharmacological studies have directly compared these drugs. This double-blind, double-dummy, placebo-controlled, repeated measures study directly compared the acute dose effects of triazolam (0.125, 0.25 mg/70 kg) and alcohol (0.40, 0.80 g/kg) in 20 social drinkers. At doses that produced comparable psychomotor impairment, triazolam was more likely to impair several objective measures of cognitive performance (e.g., episodic memory, divided attention) and to slow performance across several measures. However, only alcohol impaired accuracy on the digit symbol substitution and semantic memory tasks. In addition to objective measures, both drugs impaired awareness of performance impairments (i.e., metacognition) such that participants overestimated impairment, and the magnitude of this effect was generally larger for alcohol. Only triazolam impaired other measures of metacognition (e.g., error detection on a choice reaction time task). Future research might examine the clinical implications of the performance impairments reported here given the widespread use of benzodiazepines and alcohol.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalExperimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2010



  • alcohol
  • benzodiazepines
  • cognition
  • performance
  • triazolam

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Medicine(all)

Cite this

Dose Effects of Triazolam and Alcohol on Cognitive Performance in Healthy Volunteers. / Kleykamp, Bethea A.; Griffiths, Roland R; Mintzer, Miriam Z.

In: Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, Vol. 18, No. 1, 02.2010, p. 1-16.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle