Mogg, Karin and Bradley, Brendan Patrick
Selective processing of smoking-related cues in smokers: manipulation of deprivation level and comparison of three measures of processing bias
Journal of Psychopharmacology, 16, (4), .
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Recent theories of addiction suggest that an attentional bias for drug-related cues plays an important role in maintaining drug-taking behaviours. A key feature of the present study is that it used three different measures of processing bias for linguistic and pictorial smoking-related cues: masked and unmasked conditions of the modified Stroop task, and a pictorial version of the visual probe task. Participants were smokers (n = 27), who were tested twice, with deprivation level manipulated as a within-subjects variable. They were asked to abstain from smoking for 12 h before one session, and to smoke normally before the other. Results were consistent with an attentional bias for smoking-related pictures on the visual probe task, and for smoking-related words in the unmasked condition of the modified Stroop task. The latter bias was most strongly predicted by self-reported urge to smoke, rather than by the deprivation manipulation. There was no evidence of a preconscious bias for smoking cues. The three measures of cognitive bias (from masked and unmasked Stroop and visual probe tasks) were not significantly correlated with each other, which suggests they may tap different underlying mechanisms. We discuss the results with respect to conceptualizations of selective attention, addiction and motivational states in general.
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