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Thursday, March 21, 2013

The individualized alcohol Stroop task: No attentional bias toward personalized stimuli in alcohol-dependents.

This study aimed to investigate attentional bias in alcohol-dependent patients and control participants with regard to individualized (specific) and nonindividualized (general) alcohol-related words.

First, it was assumed that alcohol-dependents rather than control participants are more distracted by alcohol-related words, particularly individualized alcohol-related words, than by non–alcohol-related words.

Second, words which are derived from participants' individual drinking experiences were assumed to induce the highest Stroop interference over all participants.

Alcohol-dependent patients (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV, n = 39) and healthy control participants with a moderate consume of alcohol (n = 33) completed a modified alcohol Stroop task based on word stimuli derived from four categories: neutral versus negative and specific versus general alcohol-related words.

While alcohol-dependents showed similar RTs in the different word categories, control participants showed the slowest reactions after presentation of specific alcohol-related words. Generally, alcohol-dependents had slower RTs than controls did.

The results do not corroborate the hypothesis of increased interference caused by specific alcohol-related words in alcohol-dependents—instead, this presumption seems to apply to the control participants only. As we did not find any special impact of personally relevant alcohol-related words outclassing the influence of preselected alcohol-related words in the patient group, the benefit of individualized stimuli should be reconsidered.

Our results do not support the relevance of attentional retraining programs.

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