Visual and auditory contextual cues differentially influence alcohol-related inhibitory control

Adam Qureshi, Rebecca Monk, Charlotte Pennington, X. Li, T. Leatherbarrow, J.R. Oulton

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Representing a more immersive testing environment, the current study exposed individuals to both alcohol-related visual and auditory cues to assess their respective impact on alcohol-related inhibitory control. It examined further whether individual variation in alcohol consumption and trait effortful control may predict inhibitory control performance. Twenty-five U.K. university students (Mage = 23.08, SD = 8.26) completed an anti-saccade eye-tracking task and were instructed to look towards (pro) or directly away (anti) from alcohol-related and neutral visual stimuli. Short alcohol-related sound cues (bar audio) were played on 50% of trials and were compared with responses where no sounds were played. Findings indicate that participants launched more incorrect saccades towards alcohol-related visual stimuli on antisaccade trials, and responded quicker to alcohol on pro-saccade trials. Alcohol-related audio cues reduced latencies for both pro- and antisaccade trials and reduced anti-saccade error rates to alcohol-related visual stimuli. Controlling for trait effortful control and problem alcohol consumption removed these effects. These findings suggest that alcohol-related visual cues may be associated with reduced inhibitory control, evidenced by increased errors and faster response latencies. The presentation of alcohol-related auditory cues, however, appears to enhance performance accuracy. It is postulated that auditory cues may re-contextualise visual stimuli into a more familiar setting that reduces their saliency and lessens their attentional pull.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 4 Jul 2018


  • Alcohol consumption
  • Inhibitory control
  • Context effects
  • Anti-saccade
  • Effortful control.

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