, Volume 176, Issue 1, pp 88–93 | Cite as

Attentional biases for alcohol cues in heavy and light social drinkers: the roles of initial orienting and maintained attention

  • Matt FieldEmail author
  • Karin Mogg
  • Jessica Zetteler
  • Brendan P. Bradley
Original Investigation



There has been considerable theoretical interest in attentional biases for drug-related cues. However, there is little research on the component processes of such attentional biases.


We examined initial orienting to, and the maintenance of attention on, alcohol-related cues in heavy and light social drinkers.


The present study used a visual probe task to investigate biases in visual orienting to alcohol-related cues. We varied the presentation duration of alcohol-related pictures (200, 500 or 2000 ms) to investigate whether attentional biases operated in initial orienting or the maintenance of attention.


In comparison with light social drinkers, heavy social drinkers had an attentional bias for alcohol pictures which were presented at the longer exposure durations (500 and 2000 ms), but not at the shorter duration of 200 ms. Subjective alcohol craving was correlated with the attentional bias index for alcohol pictures presented for 2000 ms.


These results suggest that biases in visual orienting to alcohol-related cues in heavy social drinkers operate mainly in the processes involved in the maintenance of attention.


Alcohol Attentional bias Social drinkers Drug cues Craving 



Karin Mogg holds a Wellcome Senior Research Fellowship in Basic Biomedical Science.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matt Field
    • 1
    Email author
  • Karin Mogg
    • 1
  • Jessica Zetteler
    • 1
  • Brendan P. Bradley
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for the Study of Emotion and Motivation, School of PsychologyUniversity of SouthamptonHighfieldUK

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