Year of Publication

2011

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Thesis

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Suzanne Segerstrom

Abstract

Under conditions of high self-regulatory effort, peripheral organ systems have been found to slow, potentially to rearrange energetic priorities in favor of the brain. The present study tested an expansion of this model by exploring the possibility that alcohol metabolism (i.e., liver function) may slow during self-regulation. We also anticipated that high trait self-control would attenuate the effect of condition on metabolism. Twelve males aged 21-25 completed two conditions in counterbalanced order. During each session, the participant received 0.33 ml/kg of absolute alcohol for a target peak blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.03 g%. Participants then performed tasks (self-regulatory tasks in the high self-regulation condition and identical tasks without a self-regulatory component in the low self-regulation condition) and BAC was measured throughout. Although there was no main effect of condition, trait self-regulation moderated the effect of condition on alcohol metabolism such that only those with lower trait self-control had slower alcohol metabolism under high self-regulatory effort. These results provide support for the hypothesis that liver function may indeed be altered by self-regulatory effort. In addition to suggesting the liver as a target organ for psychophysiological research, these data provide further support for slowing of peripheral systems during high self-regulatory demand.

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