Several studies indicate that individuals with substance use disorders (SUD) exhibit biases in the cognitive processing of substance-related stimuli. These biases facilitate the detection of substance cues and have been argued to play a causal or perpetuating role in addiction. Two electrophysiological indices of cognitive processing, the P300 and Slow Potential (SP) components of the event-related potential (ERP), are associated with the deployment of attentional resources to motivationally relevant stimuli. In the present meta-analysis P300 (300-800. ms) and SP (>800. ms) amplitudes are used to investigate whether SUD persons show enhanced cognitive processing of substance cues relative to neutral cues as opposed to control participants. Results indicated the P300 and SP amplitude effect sizes were significantly larger in SUD participants than controls. This result is explained by substance users' motivated attention. Additional stratified moderator analyses revealed that both P300 and SP amplitudes were not moderated by electrode site (Fz vs. Pz), type of substance used (stimulants vs. depressants), substance use status (abstinent vs. non-abstinent), age, gender and task requirements (active vs. passive paradigms).

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Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews
Pediatric Psychiatry

Littel, M., Euser, A., Munafò, M., & Franken, I. (2012). Electrophysiological indices of biased cognitive processing of substance-related cues: A meta-analysis. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews (Vol. 36, pp. 1803–1816). doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2012.05.001