Alcohol is mainly consumed in social settings, in which people often adapt their drinking behaviour to that of others, also called imitation of drinking. Yet, it remains unclear what drives this drinking in a social setting. In this study, we expected to see stronger brain and behavioural responses to social compared to non-social alcohol cues, and these responses to be associated with drinking in a social setting. The sample consisted of 153 beer-drinking males, aged 18–25 years. Brain responses to social alcohol cues were measured during an alcohol cue-exposure task performed in an fMRI scanner. Behavioural responses to social alcohol cues were measured using a stimulus-response compatibility task, providing an index of approach bias towards these cues. Drinking in a social setting was measured in a laboratory mimicking a bar environment. Specific brain responses to social alcohol cues were observed in the bilateral superior temporal sulcus and the left inferior parietal lobe. There was no approach bias towards social alcohol cues specifically; however, we did find an approach bias towards alcohol (versus soda) cues in general. Brain responses and approach bias towards social alcohol cues were unrelated and not associated with actual drinking. Thus, we found no support for a relation between drinking in a social setting on the one hand, and brain cue-reactivity or behavioural approach biases to social alcohol cues on the other hand. This suggests that, in contrast to our hypothesis, drinking in a social setting may not be driven by brain or behavioural responses to social alcohol cues.

Additional Metadata
Keywords alcohol drinking, approach bias, cue-reactivity, imitation, social
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1111/ejn.14574, hdl.handle.net/1765/120619
Journal European Journal of Neuroscience
Citation
Groefsema, M.M. (Martine M.), Mies, G.W, Cousijn, J, Engels, R.C.M.E, Sescousse, G. (Guillaume), & Luijten, M. (2019). Brain responses and approach bias to social alcohol cues and their association with drinking in a social setting in young adult males. European Journal of Neuroscience. doi:10.1111/ejn.14574