The effect of acute alcohol on motor-related EEG asymmetries during preparation of approach or avoid alcohol responses

Biol Psychol. 2016 Feb;114:81-92. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2015.12.012. Epub 2016 Jan 4.


Alcohol-approach tendencies have been associated with heavy drinking and play a role in the transition to alcohol abuse. Such cognitive biases might predict future alcohol use better under a low dose of alcohol. The aim of this prospective study was to investigate both the magnitude and the predictive power of alcohol-induced changes on approach-avoidance bias and bias-related cortical asymmetries during response preparation across heavy and light drinking adolescents. In heavy drinking adolescents greater approach-related asymmetry index in the beta-band was observed for soft-drink cues compared to alcohol ones and this increase was associated with increase in difficulty to regulate alcohol intake. Earlier findings demonstrated that young heavy drinkers hold both positive and negative implicit alcohol associations, reflecting an ambiguity towards alcohol. The increase in approach related beta-lateralization for soft-drink cues measured in this study may represent a compensatory effort for the weaker S-R mapping (approaching soft drink). The MRAA findings in this study may highlight a mechanism related to overcompensation due to ambivalent attitudes towards drinking in our heavy drinking sample who had greater problems to limit their alcohol intake compared to light drinkers. Moreover, a relatively strong approach soft-drink and weak approach alcohol reaction-time bias after alcohol predicted decreasing drinking; suggesting that the capacity to control the bias under alcohol could be a protective factor.

Keywords: Acute alcohol; Alcohol approach bias; Alpha; Asymmetry; Beta; Prospective predictions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology*
  • Alcoholic Beverages
  • Alcoholism / psychology*
  • Association
  • Attitude
  • Avoidance Learning / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Carbonated Beverages
  • Cues
  • Electroencephalography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Netherlands
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Young Adult