“Arousal” and Alcoholism: Psychophysiological Responses to Alcohol

  • A. M. Ludwig
  • L. H. Stark
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 59)


It is assumed that any comprehensive theory of alcoholism presupposes an understanding of the biological mechanisms of action subserving or associated with this disorder. It is further assumed that the determinants of excessive drinking behavior pertain not only to environmental events and contingencies but to interoceptive bodily cues induced by alcohol itself (1). Unfortunately, though alcohol represents one of the oldest and most widely used drugs known to man, there is a surprisingly scant and often contradictory literature relevant to its physiological and neurophysiological effects in alcoholics. Almost all prior studies (a) pertain to animals rather than humans, (b) pertain to normal, healthy male volunteers rather than habituated or detoxified alcoholics, thereby ignoring critical factors of metabolic and tissue tolerance (2), (c) employ extremely small, non-representative samples (d) do not take into account the “Mellanby effect” (3) (i.e., differential effects of alcohol pertaining to the ascending and descending limb of the blood alcohol curve) or time-dose-response characteristics and (e) do not control for the extremely important influences of mental set and physical setting.


Testing Period Blood Alcohol Blood Alcohol Concentration Alpha Activity Contingent Negative Variation 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. M. Ludwig
    • 1
  • L. H. Stark
    • 1
  1. 1.College of Medicine, Department of PsychiatryUniversity of KentuckyLexingtonUSA

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