Impact of alcohol on memory: a systematic review

Heather D. Flowe*, Theo Jores, Julie Gawrylowicz, Danielle Hett, Graham M. Davies

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This chapter reviews the literature in psychology on acute alcohol intoxication and memory. Special emphasis is placed on empirical studies that have systematically examined alcohol’s effects on memory performance in forensic contexts. Three aspects of memory performance are considered, including memory accuracy (i.e. the ability of the complainant to accurately distinguish between correct and incorrect information about the crime), memory reliability (i.e. the probability that information recalled by the complainant at a given level of certainty is correct), and completeness (i.e. the quantity of information reported by the complainant). The review also documents the major theoretical perspectives on memory and acute alcohol intoxication. A total of 19 studies are reviewed. The results show that different memory performance measures are relevant depending on whether we are policy makers formulating interview guidance or decision makers evaluating the strength of memory evidence in a given case. Overall, the research to date indicates that acute alcohol intoxication during rape affects the completeness, but not the accuracy and reliability of what is remembered.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAlcohol and remembering rape
Subtitle of host publicationnew evidence for practice
EditorsHeather D. Flowe, Anna Carline
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages37
ISBN (Electronic)9783030678678
ISBN (Print)9783030678661
Publication statusPublished - 13 Sep 2021

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