Effects of Visual Alcohol Cues on Alcoholics' Autonomic Arousal

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Alcohol-related stimuli are known to increase craving and autonomic arousal in alcohol-dependent Ss. The present investigation was designed to determine whether visual alcohol cues alone, that is, slides showing drinking environments and alcohol beverage bottles, were sufficient to elicit autonomic arousal. Eighty-two male alcoholic inpatients were shown alcohol-related or control slides while electrodermal responses were recorded. Each slide was presented for 4 s and interstimulus intervals varied between 20 and 30 s. The frequency of skin conductance responses (SCRs) and the amplitude of the first SCR to each picture presentation were greater to alcohol slides than to control slides. The Ss showed slower habituation to alcohol-related slides as compared with control slides. Pictures of hard liquor yielded significantly higher SCR amplitudes than did pictures of beer.

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