Alcohol impairs inhibitory control, and it alters implicit alcohol cognitions including attentional bias and implicit associations. These effects are seen after doses of alcohol which do not lead to global impairments in cognitive performance.
We review studies which demonstrate that the effects of alcohol on inhibitory control are associated with the ability of alcohol to prime alcohol-seeking behavior.
We also hypothesize that alcohol-induced changes in implicit alcohol cognitions may partially mediate alcohol-induced priming of the motivation to drink.
Based on contemporary theoretical models and conceptualizations of executive function, impulsivity, and the motivational salience of alcohol-related cues, we speculate on other aspects of cognition that may underlie alcohol's effects on alcohol seeking.
Inconsistencies in existing research and priorities for future research are highlighted, including dose effects and the potential interactions between chronic heavy drinking and the acute effects of alcohol on these cognitive processes.
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