Attentional bias for caffeine-related stimuli in high but not moderate or non-caffeine consumers

Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2005 Sep;181(3):477-85. doi: 10.1007/s00213-005-0004-9. Epub 2005 Oct 12.


Rationale: Attentional bias for drug-related cues has been reported with a wide range of drugs, but to date the extent to which caffeine consumers show similar biases for caffeine-related stimuli has not been tested. The present study therefore examined this issue in terms of differences in attentional bias for caffeine-related words in High, Moderate and Non-caffeine consumers using a dot-probe word task following overnight caffeine abstinence.

Objectives: This study was conducted to test whether caffeine consumers show an attentional bias for caffeine-related words, and whether such biases relate to habitual levels of caffeine use.

Methods: Sixteen High, Moderate and Non-consumers of caffeine were asked to complete a modified dot-probe task in order to measure attentional bias for caffeine-related relative to neutral control word groups. The task was completed following overnight caffeine abstinence, and participants also completed mood and caffeine-craving measures.

Results: The High consumer group showed a significant attentional bias for the caffeine-related words, but no such bias was seen in Moderate or Non-consumer groups. As expected, craving for caffeine was strongest in the High consumers and weakest in the Non-consumers. Attentional bias in the High group correlated with self-reported caffeine consumption and with craving for caffeine, but neither effect was significant in the Moderate group.

Conclusions: These data confirm that High caffeine consumers show attentional bias for caffeine-related stimuli, consistent with current theories of drug addiction.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affect / drug effects
  • Attention / drug effects*
  • Caffeine / administration & dosage*
  • Cues
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Orientation / drug effects
  • Paired-Associate Learning / drug effects
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / drug effects
  • Reaction Time / drug effects
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / diagnosis


  • Caffeine