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Alcohol-related attentional bias in a gaze contingency task: Comparing appetitive and non-appetitive cues

Qureshi, Adam; Monk, Rebecca L.; Pennington, Charlotte R.; Wilcockson, Thomas D.W.; Heim, Derek


Adam Qureshi

Rebecca L. Monk

Thomas D.W. Wilcockson

Derek Heim


© 2018 Background: Non-problem drinkers attend automatically to alcohol-related cues compared to non-alcohol related cues on tests of inhibitory control. Moreover, attentional bias for alcohol-related cues varies between problem and non-problem drinkers. Aim: To examine attentional bias towards alcoholic and non-alcoholic appetitive cues between problem and non-problem drinkers. Method: Forty-one university students (9 male, 32 female; Mage = 21.50) completed an eye-tracking gaze contingency paradigm, measuring the number of times participants looked at peripherally and centrally located stimuli (break frequency) when instructed to maintain focus on a target object. Stimuli consisted of appetitive alcohol-related (e.g., wine), appetitive non-alcohol-related (e.g., cola) and non-appetitive (e.g., fabric softener) stimuli. Participants were split using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) into non-problem (M AUDIT = 3.86) and problematic drinkers (M AUDIT = 11.59). Results: Problematic drinkers had higher break frequencies towards peripheral appetitive stimuli than towards non-appetitive stimuli, while break frequency was equivalent between appetitive cues presented centrally (alcohol and non-alcohol-related). In contrast, there were no differences in break frequency across stimuli type or cue presentation location (central or peripheral) for non-problem drinkers. Conclusion: In contrast to non-problem drinkers, people displaying more problematic consumption practices may find it more difficult to inhibit eye movements towards appetitive stimuli, particularly when in peripheral vision. This may suggest that attentional biases, as measured in terms of overt eye movements, in problem drinkers may be most powerful when the alcoholic and appetitive stimuli are not directly in field of view. An uncertainty reduction process in the allocation of attention to appetitive cues may help explain the patterns of results observed.


Qureshi, A., Monk, R. L., Pennington, C. R., Wilcockson, T. D., & Heim, D. (2019). Alcohol-related attentional bias in a gaze contingency task: Comparing appetitive and non-appetitive cues. Addictive Behaviors, 90, 312-317.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 23, 2018
Online Publication Date Nov 24, 2018
Publication Date Mar 1, 2019
Deposit Date Nov 27, 2018
Publicly Available Date May 25, 2020
Journal Addictive Behaviors
Print ISSN 0306-4603
Electronic ISSN 1873-6327
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 90
Pages 312-317
Keywords inhibitory control, attentional bias, alcohol, appetitive, gaze contingency
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : This is the author's accepted manuscript. The final published version is available here:


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