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Strong seduction: impulsivity and the impact of contextual cues on instrumental behavior in alcohol dependence

Sommer, C; Garbusow, M; Jünger, E; Pooseh, S; Bernhardt, N; Birkenstock, J; Schad, DJ; ... Zimmermann, US; + view all (2017) Strong seduction: impulsivity and the impact of contextual cues on instrumental behavior in alcohol dependence. Translational Psychiatry , 7 (8) , Article e1183. 10.1038/tp.2017.158. Green open access

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Abstract

Alcohol-related cues acquire incentive salience through Pavlovian conditioning and then can markedly affect instrumental behavior of alcohol-dependent patients to promote relapse. However, it is unclear whether similar effects occur with alcohol-unrelated cues. We tested 116 early-abstinent alcohol-dependent patients and 91 healthy controls who completed a delay discounting task to assess choice impulsivity, and a Pavlovian-to-instrumental transfer (PIT) paradigm employing both alcohol-unrelated and alcohol-related stimuli. To modify instrumental choice behavior, we tiled the background of the computer screen either with conditioned stimuli (CS) previously generated by pairing abstract pictures with pictures indicating monetary gains or losses, or with pictures displaying alcohol or water beverages. CS paired to money gains and losses affected instrumental choices differently. This PIT effect was significantly more pronounced in patients compared to controls, and the group difference was mainly driven by highly impulsive patients. The PIT effect was particularly strong in trials in which the instrumental stimulus required inhibition of instrumental response behavior and the background CS was associated to monetary gains. Under that condition, patients performed inappropriate approach behavior, contrary to their previously formed behavioral intention. Surprisingly, the effect of alcohol and water pictures as background stimuli resembled that of aversive and appetitive CS, respectively. These findings suggest that positively valenced background CS can provoke dysfunctional instrumental approach behavior in impulsive alcohol-dependent patients. Consequently, in real life they might be easily seduced by environmental cues to engage in actions thwarting their long-term goals. Such behaviors may include, but are not limited to, approaching alcohol.

Type: Article
Title: Strong seduction: impulsivity and the impact of contextual cues on instrumental behavior in alcohol dependence
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1038/tp.2017.158
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1038/tp.2017.158
Language: English
Additional information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
Keywords: Adult, Alcohol Abstinence, Alcoholism, Choice Behavior, Conditioning, Operant, Cues, Delay Discounting, Female, Humans, Impulsive Behavior, Male, Middle Aged, Neuropsychological Tests
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Division of Psychiatry
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10070608
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