Background: Prior research demonstrates that individuals who consume alcohol show diminished inhibitory control towards alcohol-related cues. However, such research contrasts predominantly alcoholic appetitive cues with non-alcoholic, non-appetitive cues (e.g., stationary items). As such, it is not clear whether it is specifically the alcoholic nature of the cues that influences impairments in inhibitory control or whether more general appetitive processes are at play. Aims: The current study examined the hitherto untested assertion that the disinhibiting effects of alcohol-related stimuli might generalise to other appetitive liquid stimuli, but not to non-appetitive liquid stimuli. Method: Fifty-nine participants (Mage = 21.63, SD = 5.85) completed a modified version of the Stop Signal Task, which exposed them to visual stimuli of three types of liquids: Alcoholic appetitive (e.g., wine), non-alcoholic appetitive (e.g., water) and non-appetitive (e.g., washing-up liquid). Results: Consistent with predictions, Stop-signal reaction time was significantly longer for appetitive (alcoholic, non-alcoholic) compared to non-appetitive stimuli. Participants were also faster and less error-prone when responding to appetitive relative to non-appetitive stimuli on go-trials. There were no apparent differences in stop signal reaction times between alcoholic and non-alcoholic appetitive products. Conclusions: These findings suggest that decreases in inhibitory control in response to alcohol-related cues might generalise to other appetitive liquids, possibly due to evaluative conditioning. Implications for existing research methodologies include the use of appetitive control conditions and the diversification of cues within tests of alcohol-related inhibitory control.
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Monk, R. L., Qureshi, A., Pennington, C., & Hamlin, I. (2017). Generalised inhibitory impairment to appetitive cues: From alcoholic to non-alcoholic visual stimuli. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 180, 26-32. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2017.07.038