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The effects of alcohol consumption on attentional bias and impulsivity

PELECH, JODIE (2012) The effects of alcohol consumption on attentional bias and impulsivity. Leeds Metropolitan University.


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Impulsivity, a multi-dimensional construct, has been extensively explored within addiction research; with increased alcohol consumption repeatedly linked to heightened impulsivity. Similarly, greater attentional bias towards alcohol-related stimuli, commanding both initial and maintenance of attention, has been consistently reported in more accustomed alcohol drinkers. However, due to the lack of research combining these facets of addiction, the purpose of the present study was to explore the relationship between attentional bias and impulsivity; providing a more comprehensive understanding of alcohol-drinking in a sample of light and heavy drinkers (N= 44). Fundamentally, maintained attentional biases towards alcohol-related stimuli, measured using a visual dot-probe task, were significantly and positively correlated with trait impulsivity, using the Barratt Impulsivity Scale. Both maintenance and initial biases in alcohol-attention were positively correlated with state impulsivity of impaired inhibitory control in a ‘stop’ task; but were not correlated with impulsive choice in a delayed discounting paradigm. Furthermore, significantly increased craving was reported following alcohol cue-exposure in the visual dot-probe. Thus, supporting the notion that highly impulsive individuals are more susceptible to relapse due to biased attention towards alcohol-related cues; which elicits increased craving. Ultimately, knowledge of this relationship is essential to further inform effective rehabilitation interventions within addiction treatment; bringing this under-researched, complex relationship into the arena of literature.

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