Alcohol attention bias in adolescent social drinkers: an eye tracking study

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Abstract

Rationale
Previous research on attention bias in nondependent social drinkers has focused on adult samples with limited focus on the presence of attention bias for alcohol cues in adolescent social drinkers.
Objectives
The aim of this study was to examine the presence of alcohol attention bias in adolescents and the relationship of this cognitive bias to alcohol use and alcohol-related expectancies.
Methods
Attention bias in adolescent social drinkers and abstainers was measured using an eye tracker during exposure to alcohol and neutral cues. Questionnaires measured alcohol use and explicit alcohol expectancies.
Results
Adolescent social drinkers spent significantly more time fixating to alcohol stimuli compared to controls. Total fixation time to alcohol stimuli varied in accordance with level of alcohol consumption and was significantly associated with more positive alcohol expectancies. No evidence for automatic orienting to alcohol stimuli was found in adolescent social drinkers.
Conclusion
Attention bias in adolescent social drinkers appears to be underpinned by controlled attention suggesting that whilst participants in this study displayed alcohol attention bias comparable to that reported in adult studies, the bias has not developed to the point of automaticity. Initial fixations appeared to be driven by alternative attentional processes which are discussed further.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3183-3191
Number of pages9
JournalPsychopharmacology
Volume232
Issue number17
Early online date28 May 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2015

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