Alcohol and the auditory brain-stem response, brain temperature, and blood alcohol curves: explanation of a paradox

Julia A. Lee, Eugene P. Schoener, Donald W. Nielsen, Annetta R. Kelly, Wen Nuei Lin, Robert F Berman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations


A previous study found temperature-independent effects of alcohol upon the auditory brain-stem response (ABR); another found only temperature-dependent effects. To understand these paradoxical results, we measured the ABR and brain temperature in unrestrained rats before and after 3 alcohol doses (0.5, 2.5 and 5.0 g/kg). In a separate experiment, blood ethanol concentration (BEC) curves were determined for the same 3 alcohol doses. Integration of dose- and time-related effects of alcohol upon the ABR, brain temperature, and BEC suggested that alcohol has both temperature-dependent and temperature-independent effects, which vary according to dose and BEC curve phase. Temperature-dependent effects are likely during a BEC curve falling phase with a sleep slope, following a high alcohol dose. Temperature-independent effects are likely during a BEC curve falling phase with a flatter slope, when BEC is still high following a moderate alcohol dose, or during a BEC curve rising phase soon after alcohol administration. The two previous studies with contradictory results each used procedural combinations likely to produce their respective results. Although both research groups administered similar alcohol doses, their alcohol solutions, administration routes, and time of ABR recording differed; consequently, they probably recorded ABR during different portions of BEC curve falling phases, which differed in slope. In view of the complex interactions among alcohol effects, BEC curve phase, temperature, and the ABR, we recommend temperature measurement during alcohol-ABR studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)362-375
Number of pages14
JournalElectroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology/ Evoked Potentials
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes



  • (Rat)
  • Alcohol
  • Auditory brain-stem response
  • Blood ethanol concentration curve
  • Brain temperature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)

Cite this