Neural Bases of Implicit Attention to Alcohol-Conditioned Stimuli

Project: Research project

Project Details


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Stimuli that become associated with alcohol by repeated pairing with drinking are thought to induce craving, shift implicit attention toward alcohol, and promote relapse. However, human neuroimaging studies of such environmentally conditioned stimuli must usually revert to proxies for the actual stimuli (e.g., pictures of a beer bottle), and are forced to side-step the problem of individual differences in conditioning history and specific stimuli. For example, a displayed visual image can only approximate the originally learned stimulus in the natural environment, and there is no way to know the precise pharmacologic conditions and frequency of the original conditioning. This application uses the R21 mechanism to test the feasibility of: 1) Classically conditioning a novel stimulus to carefully controlled, pharmacokinetically modeled intravenous alcohol infusion that targets the most rewarding phase of alcohol consumption (the ascending limb), and then 2) studying the brain systems that respond to these novel cues. Our proposed paradigm would afford considerably greater control over the exact nature of stimulus learning itself, thus permitting a more refined study of the involved neural pathways and how activity in these pathways relates to implicit attention toward alcohol cues. Such an approach would be highly useful in the study of the neural mechanisms associated with drinking behaviors and particular risk factors for alcoholism. PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE: This research will use a technology called functional magnetic resonance imaging to study the human brain's pathways related to learning how certain stimuli in the environment become associated with alcohol intoxication. The project will also study the manner in which people's attention are drawn to these alcohol associated stimuli after learning. Such factors are thought to be highly important to the development and maintenance of alcoholism and other addictions. Research such as this has the potential to improve our understanding of these brain systems, which may in turn lead to better treatments.
Effective start/end date9/30/088/31/11


  • National Institutes of Health: $221,375.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $182,875.00


  • Medicine(all)


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