Introduction: We examined whether an attentional bias modification (ABM) procedure would produce a persistent and generalizable change in attentional bias, and influence subjective craving and tobacco-seeking behavior, among tobacco smokers.
Methods: Seventy-two cigarette smokers were randomly allocated to groups before completing a modified visual probe task in which their attentional bias for smoking-related cues was increased ("attend smoking" group), reduced ("avoid smoking" group), or not manipulated (control group).
Results: The ABM produced the predicted changes in attentional bias, although these effects were short lasting, and there was no evidence of generalization either to novel smoking-related stimuli or to performance on a different measure of attentional bias (the pictorial Stroop task). ABM had no effects on subjective craving or behavioral measures of tobacco seeking.
Discussion: These results add to a growing body of literature that suggests that a single session of ABM does not produce generalizable effects, and effects on craving and drug seeking are inconsistent across studies. Theoretical implications and directions for future research are discussed.