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Multi-Level Analysis of Attentional Biases in Abstinent and Non-Abstinent Problem Drinkers

Title: A Multi-Level Analysis of Attentional Biases in Abstinent and Non-Abstinent Problem Drinkers.
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Name(s): Christensen, Rita L. (Rita Louise), author
Lang, Alan R., professor directing dissertation
Orcutt, James D., university representative
Schmidt, Brad, committee member
Taylor, Jeanette, committee member
Radach, Ralph, committee member
Department of Psychology, degree granting department
Florida State University, degree granting institution
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Text
Issuance: monographic
Date Issued: 2009
Publisher: Florida State University
Place of Publication: Tallahassee, Florida
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: Attentional bias toward alcohol-related cues has been positively correlated with level of drinking experience and is thought to play a role in the maintenance of problem drinking and in relapse following periods of abstinence. Prior research has suggested that attentional bias for alcohol cues is more robust in current problem drinkers than in largely non-problem social drinkers. However, the persistence, possible extinction, or other modification of such attentional bias in former problem drinkers after extended periods of abstinence has yet to be explored. This is a potentially important omission because determination of how attentional bias for alcohol cues might vary as a function of abstinence could both inform theory and have significant practical and clinical implications. Method: In the present study we used a pictorial dot-probe task to assess attentional bias for alcohol cues and coupled it with sophisticated eye-tracking measurement and alcohol use urge ratings to provide a multi-method evaluation. The sample was comprised of three groups: current Problem drinkers (n = 24), long-term (> two years) Abstinent former problem drinkers (n = 20), and non-problem Social drinkers (n = 22). Results: In contrast to the current Problem drinking group, Abstinent former problem drinkers appeared to showed a "reversed" attentional bias, presumably driven by a desire to avoid alcohol cues. This was indicated by their longer reaction times to dots positioned behind alcohol cues, as well as their lower number of initial fixations on alcohol cues and shorter fixation duration on alcohol cues during the dot probe task. In their self-report of urge ratings during alcohol cue exposure, the Abstinent group also evidenced the lowest approach and highest avoidance ratings of the three groups. On most indicators, the responses of current Problem drinkers showed greater attentional bias and preference for alcohol cues than was evident in the current Social drinking group, but these differences were generally non-significant. Conclusions: Despite initial orienting responses similar to those of current Problem and Social drinkers, long-term Abstinent former problem drinkers appeared to exhibit a highly automated pattern of avoidance of alcohol cues. Eye movement recording allowed for differentiation between initial orienting biases and biases associated with cognitive sequelae of cue exposure, but assessments appeared to be subject to habituation and participant reactivity in that biases were not evident in a subsequent picture viewing task presented without probes.
Identifier: FSU_migr_etd-3628 (IID)
Submitted Note: A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Psychology in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Degree Awarded: Fall Semester, 2009.
Date of Defense: October 28, 2009.
Keywords: Abstinence, Relapse, Alcoholism, Attentional Bias, Eye Movement, Cue Reactivity
Bibliography Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Advisory Committee: Alan R. Lang, Professor Directing Dissertation; James D. Orcutt, University Representative; Brad Schmidt, Committee Member; Jeanette Taylor, Committee Member; Ralph Radach, Committee Member.
Subject(s): Psychology
Persistent Link to This Record: http://purl.flvc.org/fsu/fd/FSU_migr_etd-3628
Owner Institution: FSU

Choose the citation style.
Christensen, R. L. (R. L. ). (2009). A Multi-Level Analysis of Attentional Biases in Abstinent and Non-Abstinent Problem Drinkers. Retrieved from http://purl.flvc.org/fsu/fd/FSU_migr_etd-3628