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Early attentional modulation by alcohol-related cues in young binge drinkers: an event-related potentials study.

Early attentional modulation by alcohol-related cues in young binge drinkers: an event-related potentials study.

Authors: 
Petit G., Kornreich C., Maurage P., Noël X., Letesson C., Verbanck P. & Campanella S.
Year: 
2011
Journal: 
Clinical Neurophysiology
Abstract: 

OBJECTIVE: Episodic excessive alcohol consumption (i.e., binge drinking) is now considered to be a major concern in our society. Previous studies have shown that alcohol cues can capture attentional resources in chronic alcoholic populations and that the phenomenon is associated with the development and maintenance of alcoholism. Using event-related potentials (ERPs), we investigated the responses of binge drinkers to alcohol-related pictures. METHODS: Two groups of college students (n=18 in each group) were recruited for the study. One group was composed of binge drinkers and the other of controls. Each student completed a simple visual oddball paradigm in which alcohol-related and non-alcohol-related pictures (positive, neutral or negative) were presented. ERPs were recorded to explore the electrophysiological activity associated with the processing of each cue during the different cognitive steps. RESULTS: Although there were no behavioural differences between the two groups after detection of alcohol- and non-alcohol-related cues, the ERP data indicated that processing of alcohol-related stimuli was modulated by binge drinking: in the binge drinkers, the P100 amplitudes elicited by the alcohol-related pictures were significantly larger than those elicited by the non-alcohol pictures. CONCLUSIONS: The present study provides evidence for an early processing enhancement, indexed by increased P100 amplitude, in binge drinkers when confronted with alcohol cues. SIGNIFICANCE: These findings suggest that higher reactivity to alcohol cues is not a phenomenon limited to adult alcoholics, but that young binge drinkers exhibit signs of prioritizing processing related to alcohol. Prevention intervention for alcohol misuse in young people should consider approaches that address this automatic cue reactivity.

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