Smells like inhibition: The effects of olfactory and visual alcohol cues on inhibitory control

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Rationale: How the smell of alcohol impacts alcohol-related thoughts and behaviours is unclear, though it is well documented that alcohol-related stimuli and environments may trigger these. Objectives: The current study therefore aimed to investigate the priming effects of both visual and olfactory alcohol cues on inhibitory control. Method: Forty individuals (M age= 23.65, SD= 6.52) completed a Go/No Go association task (GNAT) which measured reaction times, response accuracy and false alarm rates whilst being exposed to alcohol-related (or neutral) olfactory and visual cues. Results: Alcohol-related visual cues elicited lower false alarm rates, slower reaction times and higher accuracy rates relative to neutral pictorial cues. False alarm rates were significantly higher for those exposed to alcohol as opposed to neutral olfactory cues. Conclusions: By highlighting that exposure to alcohol-related olfactory cues may impede response inhibition, the results indicate that exposure to such stimuli may contribute to the activation of cognitive responses which may drive consumption.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1331-1337
Number of pages7
Issue number8
Early online date16 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2016


  • Alcohol
  • Context
  • Cues
  • GNAT
  • Inhibition
  • Olfactory


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