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Title: Understanding alcohol attention bias in adolescence
Author: McAteer, Annie Melaugh
ISNI:       0000 0004 6496 3519
Awarding Body: Queen's University Belfast
Current Institution: Queen's University Belfast
Date of Award: 2017
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Ongoing pairing of alcohol consumption and alcohol related cues in the environment, through a process of classical conditioning, result in the development of alcohol attention bias (AAB) which reaches automaticity with ongoing alcohol use. AAB may co-occur alongside alcohol expectancies and physiological responses contributing to misuse (Robinson & Berridge, 1993). Understanding AAB is an important step in understanding addiction aetiology. The following series of studies employs the novel approach of eye tracking to examine AAB more directly, expanding current understanding which to date has relied on indirect methods. Inclusion of adolescent participants provides insight into earlier stages of AAB, an area where there is currently a dearth of research. Results indicate differences between drinking groups and age groups in AAB strength; older drinkers and heavy drinkers demonstrate the strongest bias. Employment of eye tracking provides novel insight into the efficacy of a modified dot probe task differentiating automatic and controlled processes. These studies provide insights regarding the early stages of AAB manifestation and the studies included in this thesis begin to address gaps in the current literature. Inferences from the cross sectional analysis and retraining task suggest the bias is not static and may change over time, approaching automaticity as alcohol use continues. Whilst AAB appeared to be associated with alcohol use, as evidenced across age groups, additional factors also appear to influence attentional processing as indicated by findings in non-drinkers. Inconsistent relationships between AAB, expectancies and physiological response are reported and possible explanations for this are outlined in the thesis. The clinical utility of these findings in understanding AAB and the role of interventions in reducing it are considered and recommendations for future work to further understand AAB' s development and its role in substance misuse are outlined.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available