Attentional bias towards cocaine-related stimuli: relationship to treatment-seeking for cocaine dependence

Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2007;33(5):727-36. doi: 10.1080/00952990701523722.


Background: Cocaine-dependent individuals demonstrate attentional bias when measured by Stroop color-naming tasks that have been modified to include cocaine-related words. However, the relationship between attentional bias and the treatment-seeking status of cocaine-dependent individuals has never been explored. The purpose of this study was to compare attentional bias towards cocaine-related verbal stimuli between treatment-seeking and nontreatment-seeking cocaine abusers.

Methods: We examined performance on a Stroop task modified to include drug-related words in 17 cocaine-dependent treatment-seeking male participants and 20 cocaine-dependent nontreatment-seeking male participants.

Results: Although treatment seekers reported less experience with cocaine than nontreatment seekers, they exhibited increased response latency and made more errors when identifying the colors of cocaine-related words, relative to neutral words (p<.05), whereas nontreatment seekers did not.

Conclusions: Factors other than a high frequency of cocaine use may contribute to the difference in attentional bias towards cocaine cues between these subgroups of cocaine users.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Cocaine*
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Color Perception / physiology
  • Comorbidity
  • Conflict, Psychological
  • Cues*
  • Diagnosis, Computer-Assisted
  • Diagnosis, Dual (Psychiatry)
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mood Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mood Disorders / epidemiology
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Reaction Time
  • Verbal Behavior*


  • Cocaine