• Short Summary

    Mr. Frank Field, Science Editor
    National Broadcasting Company
    30 Rockefeller Plaza-WNBC-TV
    New York, New York 10020
    Dear Mr. Field:
    The?

  • Description

    Mr. Frank Field, Science Editor
    National Broadcasting Company
    30 Rockefeller Plaza-WNBC-TV
    New York, New York 10020
    Dear Mr. Field:
    The film which you requested to illustrate the article in Science (March 21) "Alcohol and Recall; State Dependent Effects in Man" by Dr. Donald Goodwin et al is attached. We also have enclosed additional footage on another of Dr. Goodwin's research projects which involves putting goldfish in alcohol solutions to study tolerance effects.

    There is a shot sheet for each set of film describing each scene and listing its approximate time. The scenes are not in sequence, and I have indicated the proper order on the sheet.

    Both studies, the alcohol and recall and goldfish tolerance, were conducted under a $1.5 million, five-year research program on alcoholism which started at Washington University in July, 1967. Dr. Goodwin is a psychiatrist and full-time investigator on this program which is headed by Dr. Samuel B. Guze, professor of psychiatry at the Medical School.

    These studies are some of the most intensive over undertaken on alcoholism which may affect 6 to 8 million Americans. Several members of the psychiatry department are involved in the wide-ranging studies which include one on the relationship of alcoholism to criminality and another on the genetics of alcoholism to see whether heredity or environment ???
    ALCOHOL AND RECALL STUDY
    Another study (now in press) by Dr. Goodwin and his colleagues on blackouts or memory loss during drinking bouts revealed that many alcoholics forget incidents that happened while they were drunk, and which they recalled only after beginning to drink again. For example, some would hide liquor or money when drinking and couldn't remember doing this until intoxicated again. In fact, Dr. Goodwin says, some alcoholics report that they will deliberately drink again in expectation that their memory for previous drinking episodes will be restored.

    It was also learned in this yet unreported study that blackouts, rather than occurring early in the history of an alcoholic, generally occur after he has been one for some time. This indicates, Dr. Goodwin says, that alcoholics' well-known tolerance for alcohol also includes tolerance for memory loss.

    Interested by these observations and the results of memory experiments on drugged animals by other researchers, Dr. Goodwin and his colleagues decided to test under controlled conditions whether the state (alcoholic or nonalcoholic) a person is in when he learns something will affect his ability to later recall what he has learned. Thus, they performed on volunteer students a variety of psychologic and physiologic tests designed to study the transfer of memory and physiologic responses from states of sobriety to intoxication and vice versa.

    On one day the volunteers went through a training or learning session and 24 hours later, a testing session to check their ability to recall what they had learned the day before. They were divided into four groups. One group was sober both days, a second was intoxicated on both days, a third was intoxicated on day 1 and sober on day 2, and the fourth group was sober on day 1 and intoxicated on day 2. These that received alcohol consumed between 8 and 10 ounces of 80 proof vodka. The others drank similar amounts of a soft drink.

    The film shows four of the tests used to study memory transfer: a polygraph test, a picture recognition test, an avoidance test using a system of headphones and flashing light patterns, and a pursuit rotor test. I've included the details of each on the shot sheet.

    There is one scene (18 or 19 -- I'm not sure which) in which Dr. Goodwin is shown pouring vodka for a volunteer student. The student on taking a drink obviously hams it up a bit for the camera by pretending to gag and going through some facial contortions. Please be sure this is cut: it looks pretty silly. Also, since Dr. Goodwin went to considerable trouble for this, I hope you include a shot of him.

    The test results indicated that certain types of experiences are more easily recalled when drunk if they occurred originally when drunk. Similarly, but to a lesser degree, those that occur while sober are more easily recalled while sober than drunk. In other words, a person tens to remember some types of experiences better when he is in the same state in which he learned or underwent the experience.

    This was specifically shown by the simple recall (rote learning and word association) tests and the avoidance test. The learning of the first day "transferred" better to the second day if the person was in the same state on both days. This "state-dependent" effect on memory was best illustrated when the person was drunk on learning and recalling an experience.

    Our uncut film gives "equal time" to each of the tests. Since the avoidance test gave the most significant results of those filmed, it should be given more play. The other tests, however, provide a good illustration of the scope of the testing. The simple recall tests weren't filmed because they wouldn't come across well visually, but they were the tests that most strikingly showed a failure of memory transfer from drunk to sober states. They involved rote memory tests (memorizing sentences on one day and recalling them the next) and a word association memory test.

    The results of the study has implications both for the possible cause of alcoholism and for the common experience of amnesia when drinking, Dr. Goodwin says. For example, it is possible that alcoholics are unusually susceptible to memory loss as they go from a sober state to an intoxicated state and vice versa. Hence, the lessons of sobriety are less available to them during drunkenness than they are to nonalcoholics, and experiences occurring during intoxication are less recallable during sobriety.

    "The alcoholic," Mr. Goodwin explains, "is a person who suffers terrible penalties from his drinking. The mysterious thing is why people who suffer so much nevertheless continue to drink, particularly in view of considerable evidence that alcohol in large quantities doesn't produce sufficient pleasurable effects to account for this."
    "It is possible that there are peculiarities about the alcoholic--inmate or acquired--which render him more vulnerable to marked personality change when he begins drinking," Dr. Goodwin says.

    The relevance of the study's results to a cause for alcoholism depends on showing that alcoholics are more susceptible to these state-dependent effects on memory transfer than are nonalcoholics, Dr. Goodwin notes. He now has such a study in progress.

    GOLDFISH TOLERANCE STUDY
    Fish are used in the tolerance studies because one can easily measure how much alcohol is in their blood. After about an hour, their blood alcohol is equal to the concentration of alcohol in the water in which they swim. (You'll note on the film some unusual swimming behavior--upside down, bumping into the sides of the tank--of the fish in the alcohol solution).

    In a few hours, the fish become tolerant to the alcohol and no longer swim erratically.

    This study hopes to get at the nature of tolerance which is one of the characteristics of alcoholism. A person has to be able to drink and tolerate excessive amounts of alcohol to be an alcoholic. Dr. Goodwin uses the larger goldfish for chemical studies on the fish brain to see if any changes there correlate to the tolerance to alcohol.

    Smaller goldfish are used to measure the tolerance, the amount of which is correlated to the distance the fish swim away from a bright light.

    The smaller goldfish are kept in alcohol solutions for varying times. To measure the tolerance they've acquired they are then put behind a trap door in a long, narrow, water-filled plastic a bright light at one end of the channel goes on, the distance how far the fish swims away from the light is measured.

    Fish in alcohol for short periods have not yet become tolerant and overreact to the light, Dr. Goodwin says. If they are in an alcohol solution for 24 hours, they swim no further than those that have been kept in water only. Thus, there is a definite difference in the way they react to the light depending on how long they were in the alcohol solution and how tolerant they have become. The fish in alcohol for 24 hours have acquired tolerance since they do not overreact to the light and behave as the fish who haven't been exposed to any alcohol.

    Mr. Goodwin is interested in determining whether this tolerance can be reversed chemically. Finding the chemical basis for tolerance by such tests at these have the practical aim of developing some kind of drug, for example, which could reverse tolerance in alcoholics, so that ill offoots from drinking are produced from moderate amounts of alcohol, as is the case in people who drink little.


  • Tags

  • Data

    Film ID:
    VLVA4WIJHEEMS6MTNYOT75O64P7VC
    Media URN:
    VLVA4WIJHEEMS6MTNYOT75O64P7VC
    Group:
    Reuters - Source to be Verified
    Archive:
    Reuters
    Issue Date:
    13/05/1969
    Sound:
    Unknown
    HD Format:
    Available on request
    Stock:
    Colour
    Duration:
    00:07:53:00
    Time in/Out:
    /
    Canister:
    N/A

Comments (0)

We always welcome comments and more information about our films.
All posts are reactively checked. Libellous and abusive comments are forbidden.

Add your comment