Persistence of value-modulated attentional capture is associated with risky alcohol use

Lucy Albertella, Poppy Watson, Murat Yücel, Mike E. Le Pelley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Background: This study examined how risky patterns of alcohol use might be related to the persistence of learned attentional capture during reversal of stimulus–reward contingencies. Methods: Participants were 122 healthy adults (mean age 21 years, 66% female) who completed an assessment including a visual search task to measure value-modulated attentional capture, with a reversal phase following a period of initial training. The assessment also included questions about alcohol use. Results: Overall, attentional capture was greater for distractors associated with high reward than for those associated with low reward, replicating previous findings of value-modulated attentional capture. When stimulus–reward contingencies were reversed, a higher persistence of learned attentional capture was associated with risky patterns of alcohol use. Conclusion: This result highlights how value-modulated attentional capture may persist and is associated with risky alcohol use in a non-clinical sample. Future research (potentially with clinical samples of heavy drinkers) aimed towards understanding the mechanisms that drive these reversal deficits, and their relation to other compulsive behaviours, may provide important insights into the development and maintenance of addictive behaviours.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100195
Number of pages7
JournalAddictive Behaviors Reports
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


  • reward learning
  • reversal learning
  • cognitive flexibility
  • addiction
  • dependence
  • alcohol

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