Attention and recognition memory bias for alcohol-related stimuli among alcohol-dependent patients attending residential treatment

Addict Behav. 2013 Mar;38(3):1687-90. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2012.10.006. Epub 2012 Oct 17.


Though studies have examined attentional bias for alcohol-related information among alcohol-dependent individuals, few have examined memory bias. This study examined attention and recognition memory biases for alcohol-related information among patients recently admitted to residential alcohol treatment (n=100; 40% female). Participants completed a computerized attentional task wherein they classified a centrally-presented digit as odd or even. On some trials, an alcohol word, neutral word, or anagram was presented along with the digit. On these dual trials participants first classified the digit and then classified the other stimulus as a word or nonword. Participants took longer to classify digits that appeared with alcohol words compared to neutral words; suggesting the alcohol words distracted them from processing the digit. In a subsequent recognition memory test, participants showed significantly higher hit rates (i.e., correctly classifying an old item as old) and false alarm rates (i.e., incorrectly classifying a new item as old) to the alcohol words compared to the neutral words, and they also showed a more liberal response bias to alcohol words. The findings suggest that alcohol-dependent individuals exhibit both attention and memory bias for alcohol-related information.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcoholism / psychology*
  • Alcoholism / rehabilitation
  • Attention / drug effects*
  • Central Nervous System Depressants / pharmacology
  • Decision Making / drug effects
  • Ethanol / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Recall / drug effects*
  • Psychological Tests
  • Recognition, Psychology / drug effects*
  • Residential Treatment
  • Stimulation, Chemical


  • Central Nervous System Depressants
  • Ethanol