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Keywords:

  • Impulsivity;
  • CPT;
  • Go/No Go;
  • DRLR;
  • Alcoholism;
  • Alcohol

Background:  Although many studies have established a close relation between impulsivity and alcohol use disorders, little is known about the role of behavioral impulsivity in the development of these disorders.

Objectives:  To determine the role of 2 laboratory paradigms of impulsivity in the development of alcohol use disorders.

Methods:  Follow-up study carried out with 471 participants diagnosed as heavy drinkers (HD) and followed-up for 4 years. Initially, they were compared with a healthy control group. Assessment of behavioral impulsivity was carried out with the Continuous Performance Test (CPT), and the Stop-Signal Task (SST) assessed behavioral inhibitory control. Differential reinforcement for low-rate responding (DRLR) was used to evaluate the delay reward dimension. The Structured Clinical Interview (SCID-DSM-IV) was used to diagnose alcohol dependence.

Results:  The HD performed worse than the control group in all the behavioral tests of impulsivity. Performance in DRLR was the only behavioral impulsivity test that classified the HD correctly compared to controls. Logistic regression analysis indicated that performance on SST was a significant predictor [odds = 1.52(CI = 1.08–2.31)] of developing alcohol dependence.

Conclusions:  Our results support the relation between behavioral impulsivity and alcohol use disorders. The paradigm related to delay of reward may be a factor associated with the use of alcohol and the incapacity to control inhibition as dependence develops.