Home > Age-related differences in alcohol attention bias: a cross-sectional study.

Melaugh McAteer, Annie and Hanna, Donncha and Curran, David (2018) Age-related differences in alcohol attention bias: a cross-sectional study. Psychopharmacology , 235 , (8) , pp. 2387-2393.

INTRODUCTION
Addiction models theorise that alcohol attention bias (AAB) for alcohol-related cues develops through a process of classical conditioning and that attentional processes shift from controlled to automatically modulated responses. At the point of automaticity, alcohol cues grab the attention of problem drinkers beyond conscious control and can trigger alcohol use. To fully understand this shift, AAB should be thought of as developing on a continuum from when alcohol use commences. Despite this, little is known about AAB differences in younger populations who are at an early stage in their exposure to alcohol and related cues.

RATIONALE
This study compared AAB for alcohol cues across age groups (early adolescent, late adolescent, and young adult) and drinking groups (heavy drinkers, light drinkers, and non-drinkers) to provide a cross-sectional examination of differences in AAB and their relationship to alcohol use and age.

METHODS
Eye tracking was employed to measure several elements of attentional processing during exposure to alcohol cues. Differences across age groups and drinking groups were examined.

RESULTS
Differences in controlled attention were found between heavy and light drinkers. As age increases, a shift towards automaticity can be seen with alcohol-related cues attracting the attention of young adult drinkers earlier in stimulus presentation.

CONCLUSIONS
This cross-sectional approach provides an insight into AAB across a key developmental period. It highlights that influential processes underpinning AAB may change and how rapidly it may approach automaticity. The implications of these findings are discussed.


Item Type:Article
Date:2018
Page Range:pp. 2387-2393
Volume:235
Number:8
EndNote:View
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Subjects:G Health and disease > Substance use disorder > Alcohol use
T Demographic characteristics > Adolescent / youth (teenager / young person)
T Demographic characteristics > Young adult
VA Geographic area > Europe > Northern Ireland

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