Low doses of alcohol have a selective effect on the recognition of happy facial expressions

Michiko Kano, Jiro Gyoba, Miyuki Kamachi, Hideki Mochizuki, Michio Hongo, Kazuhiko Yanai

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


Alcohol is one of the most widely used recreational drugs, yet it is associated with undesirable social behaviour. It is used primarily for its psychoactive properties, increasing sociability and talkativeness. We hypothesize that low doses of alcohol can improve the performance related to positive emotional cognition. In this experiment, we examined the effect of low doses of alcohol on the processing of emotional facial expressions. Fifteen young male volunteers drank alcohol at volumes of 30, 60, 120 ml (0.14, 0.28, 0.56 g/kg) and performed discrimination tasks on morphed facial emotion expressions of anger, happiness, sadness and surprise-neutral. One-way ANOVA co-varying pretreatment performances revealed significant differences between alcohol levels in happy face discrimination (p < 0.01). Bonferroni correction demonstrated that low doses of alcohol caused a significantly better discrimination of happy faces, and that the performances were worse with higher doses (p < 0.001). No significance was observed with the other three emotional faces. These results indicate that low doses of alcohol affect positive emotional cognition of happy facial expressions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-139
Number of pages9
JournalHuman Psychopharmacology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2003 Mar 1


  • Alcohol
  • Cognition
  • Emotion
  • Facial expression
  • Human study
  • Reaction time

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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