Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Mark Fillmore


Impulsivity, tolerance to alcohol-induced motor impairment, and high sensitivity to alcohol-induced disinhibition each have empirical support as markers of alcohol-related problems. However, research on alcohol response and personality-based markers of risk have remained largely independent lines of research. This dissertation examined how individual differences in these well-established markers may interact to additively contribute to heavy drinking.

Participants were 96 young adults (21-33 years old). with no history of AUD. They self-reported their drinking habits over the prior 90 days, and behavioral tasks measuring disinhibition and motor impairment were administered on two separate days following two alcohol doses (active [0.65 g/kg] and placebo [0.0 g/kg]).

Alcohol impaired performance on both tasks relative to the placebo dose, and participants showed acute tolerance to alcohol-induced motor impairment but not to its disinhibiting effect. Trait impulsivity and motor tolerance served as strong stand-alone markers of heavy drinking. More frequent binge drinking was marked by two combinations of markers (1) high trait impulsivity and low sensitivity to alcohol-induced motor impairment and, (2) low sensitivity to motor impairment and high sensitivity to alcohol-induced disinhibition. A combination of tolerance to motor impairment and high disinhibition predicted binge drinking even in the absence trait impulsivity. So, although high motor impairment following alcohol is often associated negative outcomes, these findings suggest it may actually serve as a protective factor against excessive drinking, even among highly impulsive individuals and those highly disinhibited by the drug.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Funding Information

This study was supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (National Institutes of Health) T32 Grant, AA027488.