Some Effects of Alcohol and Simulated Altitude on Complex Performance Scores and Breathalyzer Readings
Work was performed under tasks AM-A-82/83-PSY-86 and AM-A-84/85-PSY-94. 16. Abstruct This study assessed possible interactive effects of alcohol and a simulated altitude of 12,500 ft. Each of 17 men was trained on the various tasks that comprise the Multiple Task Performance Battery and then performed over a 2-week period in four experimental sessions, viz., ground level (1,300 ft), with and without alcohol, and altitude (12,500 ft), with and without alcohol. Subjects breathed appropriate gas
... xtures through oxygen masks at both ground level and altitude. Subjects performed for 3 hours in the morning, had a 1-hour lunch break, and performed again for 3 hours in the afternoon. Alcohol doses were 2.2 mL of 100-proof vodka per kilogram of body weight mixed with three parts of a selected juice. Each 1-hour test block included five 10-minute performance periods with varying workloads and a 10-minute period for controlled breathalyzer measurements. Results showed no differential effect of simulated altitude on breathalyzer readings (peaks averaged .078% at 12,500 ft and .077% at ground level). The best performance occurred at ground level under placebo conditions; the 12,500-ft simulated altitude produced some decrement for the placebo condition scores. Alcohol at ground level resulted in significantly impaired performance during the morning sessions; the addition of altitude to the alcohol condition further depressed performance scores, but to about the same extent that placebo scores were depressed by altitude. Thus, there was no interactive effect of alcohol and altitude on either breathalyzer readings or performance scores. However, the general decrement produced by altitude (with or without alcohol) serves to reduce further whatever margin of safety remains in performance skills following alcohol ingestion. 17.