This research was supported by grants from the Medical Research Council of Canada.
Differential Sensitivity to Alcohol Reinforcement in Groups of Men at Risk for Distinct Alcoholism Subtypes
Version of Record online: 30 MAY 2006
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Volume 22, Issue 3, pages 585–597, May 1998
How to Cite
Conrod, P. J., Pihl, R. O. and Vassileva, J. (1998), Differential Sensitivity to Alcohol Reinforcement in Groups of Men at Risk for Distinct Alcoholism Subtypes. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 22: 585–597. doi: 10.1111/j.1530-0277.1998.tb04297.x
The authors acknowledge the contribution of Mr. Marc Gross for the development of the data acquisition and scoring programs for psychophysiological recordings, and Dr. Sherry Stewart for her comments on earlier drafts of the manuscript.
- Issue online: 30 MAY 2006
- Version of Record online: 30 MAY 2006
- Received for publication June 9, 1997; accepted December 15, 1997
The present study examines the relationship of familial and personality risk factors for alcoholism to individual differences in sensitivity to the positively and negatively reinforcing properties of alcohol. Sixteen sons of male alcoholics with multigenerational family histories of alcoholism (MFH) and 11 men who self-report heightened sensitivity to anxiety (HAS) were compared with 13 age-matched family history negative, low anxiety sensitive men (FH-LAS) on sober and alcohol-intoxicated response patterns. We were interested in the effects of alcohol on specific psychophysiological indices of “stimulus reactivity,” anxiety, and incentive reward. Alcohol significantly dampened heart rate reactivity to aversive stimulation for the MFH and HAS men equally, yet did not for the FH-LAS group. HAS men evidenced idiosyncrasies with respect to alcohol-induced changes in electrodermal reactivity to avenive stimulation (an index of anxiety/fear-dampening), and MFH men demonstrated elevated alcohol-intoxicated resting heart rates (an index of psychostimulation) relative to the FH-LAS men. The results are interpreted as reflecting a sensitivity to the “stimulus reactivity-dampening” effects of alcohol in both high-risk groups, yet population-specific sensitivities to the fear-dampening and psychostimulant properties of alcohol in the HAS and MFH groups, respectively.