Inhibitory control training (ICT) is a novel psychological intervention that aims to improve inhibitory control in response to alcohol-related cues through associative learning. Laboratory studies have demonstrated reductions in alcohol consumption following ICT compared with control/sham training, but it is unclear if these effects are robust to a change of context. In a preregistered study, we examined whether the effects of ICT would survive a context shift from a neutral context to a seminaturalistic bar setting. In a mixed design, 60 heavy drinkers (40 female) were randomly allocated to receive either ICT or control/sham training in a neutral laboratory over 2 sessions. We developed a novel variation of ICT that used multiple stop signals to establish direct stimulus–stop associations. The effects of ICT/control were measured once in the same context and once following a shift to a novel (alcohol-related) context. Our dependent variables were ad libitum alcohol consumption following training, change in inhibitory control processes, and change in alcohol value. ICT did not reduce alcohol consumption in either context compared with the control group. Furthermore, we demonstrated no effects of ICT on inhibitory control processes or alcohol value. Bayesian analyses demonstrated overall support for the null hypotheses. This study failed to find any effects of ICT on alcohol consumption or candidate psychological mechanisms. These findings illustrate the difficulty in training alcohol-inhibition associations and add to a growing body of literature suggesting that ICT holds little evidential value as a psychological intervention for alcohol use disorders.

alcohol, inhibitory control training, stimulus value, stop-signal task
Addictive Behaviors
Department of Psychology

Jones, A., Baines, L., Ruddock, H., Franken, I.H.A, Verbruggen, F., & Field, M. (2020). Does Alcohol Cue Inhibitory Control Training Survive a Context Shift?. Addictive Behaviors, 34(7). Retrieved from