When alcohol-dependent individuals are exposed to drinking-related cues, they exhibit psychophysiological reactivity such as changes in heart rate variability (HRV) and skin temperature. Moreover, such alcohol cue-reactivity may co-occur with attentional bias (AB) toward alcohol cues. In turn, stress may promote appetitive responses by exacerbating these autonomic and attentional factors. Although cue-reactivity paradigms have been used for decades to probe such automatic appetitive processes in persons with alcohol-use disorders, less is known about the attentional correlates of alcohol cue-reactivity. In this study, alcohol-dependent adults (N = 58) recruited from a residential treatment facility completed a spatial cueing task as a measure of alcohol AB and affect-modulated cue-reactivity protocol. Multiple linear regression analyses revealed that alcohol AB was significantly positively associated with parasympathetically mediated HRV and finger temperature slope and inversely associated with sympathetically mediated HRV during stress-primed alcohol cue-exposure, independent of alcohol dependence severity, time in treatment, alcohol craving, and perceived stress. Study findings suggest that alcohol AB is linked with physiological cue-reactivity and that different attentional strategies are associated with distinct profiles of autonomic responses that may ultimately index or confer additional risk for alcohol dependence.

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doi.org/10.1037/a0027199, hdl.handle.net/1765/68403
Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology
Department of Psychology

Garland, E., Franken, I., Sheetz, J., & Howard, M. (2012). Alcohol attentional bias is associated with autonomic indices of stress-primed alcohol cue-reactivity in alcohol-dependent patients. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, 20(3), 225–235. doi:10.1037/a0027199