Acute alcohol impairs conditioning of a behavioural reward-seeking response and inhibitory control processes—implications for addictive disorders
Article first published online: 9 NOV 2009
© 2009 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2009 Society for the Study of Addiction
Volume 104, Issue 12, pages 2013–2022, December 2009
How to Cite
Loeber, S. and Duka, T. (2009), Acute alcohol impairs conditioning of a behavioural reward-seeking response and inhibitory control processes—implications for addictive disorders. Addiction, 104: 2013–2022. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2009.02718.x
- Issue published online: 9 NOV 2009
- Article first published online: 9 NOV 2009
- Submitted 8 December 2008; initial review completed 9 March 2009; final version accepted 23 June 2009
- Attentional bias;
- response inhibition;
- social drinkers;
- Stop Signal task
Aims To investigate whether acute alcohol would affect performance of a conditioned behavioural response to obtain a reward outcome and impair performance in a task measuring inhibitory control to provide new knowledge of how the acute effects of alcohol might contribute to the transition from alcohol use to dependence.
Design A randomized controlled between-subjects design was employed.
Settings The laboratory of experimental psychology at the University of Sussex.
Participants Thirty-two light to moderate social drinkers recruited from the undergraduate and postgraduate population.
Measurements After the administration of alcohol (0.8 g/kg) or placebo participants underwent an instrumental reward-seeking procedure, with abstract stimuli serving as S+ (always predicting a win of 10 pence) and S− (always predicting a loss of 10 pence). In addition, a Stop Signal task was administered before and after the administration of alcohol.
Findings Participants of the alcohol group performed the behavioural response to obtain the reward outcome more often than placebo subjects in trials associated with loss of money. This finding was observed, although alcohol was not affecting explicit knowledge of stimulus–response outcome contingencies and acquisition of conditioned attentional and emotional responses. In addition, alcohol increased Stop Signal reaction time indicating disinhibiting effects of alcohol, and this was associated positively with response probability to the S−.
Conclusions These results demonstrate that alcohol is affecting inhibitory control of behavioural responses to external signals even when associated with punishment, contributing in this way to the transition from alcohol use to dependence.