Booze Cues and Attentional Narrowing: Neural Correlates of Virtual Alcohol Myopia

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Abstract

Exposure to alcohol cues reduces the breadth of attentional scope, called “virtual myopia.” Past researchers have suggested approach motivation as a possible mechanism that underlies this myopia in response to alcohol cues. We expanded on these findings in the current study by identifying the neural underpinnings of the relationship between attentional narrowing, approach motivation, and exposure to alcohol cues. Participants completed 64 trials that consisted of neutral or alcohol-related stimuli followed by a measure of attentional narrowing (i.e., Navons letter task). Electroencephalography (EEG) was recorded during the experiment to assess greater left frontal hemispheric asymmetry, a measure of approach motivation. Results revealed that alcohol cues led to greater “virtual myopia” as measured by narrowed attentional scope. Greater left frontal activation to alcohol cues related to greater myopia, suggesting that approach motivation is associated with virtual myopia. Left frontal activation appears to be a neural correlate of cognitive narrowing related to approach motivation.

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