No effect of attentional bias modification training in methamphetamine users receiving residential treatment
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Attentional bias toward drug-related stimuli is a feature of drug addiction that is linked to craving and drug-seeking behavior.
An attentional bias modification (ABM) program was tested in 42 methamphetamine-dependent clients (DSM-IV criteria) receiving residential treatment for their drug use. Participants were randomly assigned to one of two groups (N = 21 each), receiving 12 sessions of either computerized ABM training (designed to train attention away from methamphetamine stimuli 100% of the time) or an attentional control condition (designed to train attention away from methamphetamine stimuli 50% of the time). Outcome measures included attentional bias to methamphetamine-related stimuli on a probe detection task, self-reported craving, and preferences to view methamphetamine-related images on a Simulated Drug Choice Task. A subset of participants (N = 17) also underwent fMRI in a cue-induced craving paradigm.
Poor split-half reliability was observed for the probe detection task. Using this task, attentional bias toward methamphetamine-related stimuli was greater after training than at baseline, irrespective of group (p = 0.037). Spontaneous and cue-induced methamphetamine craving diminished with time (ps < 0.01), but ABM training did not influence these effects (group by time interactions, ps > 0.05). ABM training did not influence selection of methamphetamine-related pictures in the Simulated Drug Choice task (p > 0.05). In the fMRI assessment, cue-induced activation in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex was reduced over time, without an effect of ABM training.
ABM training did not improve several clinically relevant variables in treatment-seeking methamphetamine users. Additional research is needed to improve the measurement of attentional bias.
KeywordsStimulant Substance abuse Attentional bias Craving
This work was supported by a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse [R21DA040156 (EDL); K01DA037452 (SJM)], the Thomas P. and Katherine K. Pike Chair in Addiction Studies (EDL), and the Marjorie Greene Family Trust.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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