There has been much recent interest in the possibility that signals for drug use in humans acquire the ability to evoke classically conditioned (learned) states which motivate drug taking. Much data now suggest that cues paired with drug use come to elicit physiological responses and subjective reports of drug-related feelings like craving and withdrawal. However, the designs employed do not permit the conclusion that the observed responding results from classical conditioning. Studies which look directly at conditioning in the laboratory by pairing neutral stimuli with drug administration have not provided appropriate controls for unlearned effects such as sensitization or pseudo-conditioning. Similarly, studies which assess responding to cues thought to signal drug use in the natural environment (e.g., the sight of someone injecting heroin) have not adequately assessed whether such cues have unconditioned (unlearned) effects. Determining whether responding to drug-related cues results from classical conditioning has important implications for the development of drug treatments. Consequently, the purpose of the present review is to outline a set of criteria for determining that responses to drug-related stimuli in humans are learned. Existing studies are reviewed in light of these criteria and paradigms for further work are suggested.
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"On the other hand, affective responses have also been regarded as confounds that interfere with the alcohol-specific content of the pictures and hence are best to be controlled (Pulido et al., 2010). For instance, increased arousal in response to alcohol pictures may be due to a feeling of unease instead of desire (Robbins and Ehrman, 1992). The latter example serves to illustrate that construction of a standardized picture set for use in a wide range of paradigms may be complicated by paradigmspecific demands and theory-laden perspectives on stimulus validity. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background
Alcohol research may benefit from controlled and validated picture sets. We have constructed the Amsterdam Beverage Picture Set (ABPS), which was designed for alcohol research in general and cognitive bias measurement and modification in particular. Here, we first formulate a position on alcohol stimulus validity that prescribes that alcohol-containing pictures, compared to nonalcohol-containing pictures, should induce a stronger urge to drink in heavy drinkers than in light drinkers. Because a perceptually simple picture might induce stronger cognitive biases but the presence of a drinking context might induce a stronger urge to drink, the ABPS contains pictures with and without drinking context. By limiting drinking contexts to simple consumption scenes instead of real-life scenes, complexity was minimized. A validation study was conducted to establish validity, to examine ABPS drinking contexts, and to explore the role of familiarity, valence, arousal, and control.Methods
Two hundred ninety-one psychology students completed the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test, as well as rating and recognition tasks for a subset of the ABPS pictures.ResultsThe ABPS was well-recognized, familiar, and heavy drinkers reported a greater urge to drink in response to the alcohol-containing pictures only. Alcohol presented in drinking context did not elicit a stronger urge to drink but was recognized more slowly than alcohol presented without context.Conclusions
The ABPS was found to be valid, although pictures without context might be preferable for measuring cognitive biases than pictures with context. We discuss how an explicit approach to picture construction may aid in creating variations of the ABPS. Finally, we describe how ABPS adoption across studies may allow more reproducible and comparable results across paradigms, while allowing researchers to apply picture selection criteria that correspond to a wide range of theoretical positions. The latter is exemplified by ABPS derivatives and adoptions that are currently under way.
Full-text · Article · Oct 2015 · Alcoholism Clinical and Experimental Research
"Both arousal-control and cross-over response designs (Robbins and Ehrman 1992) were utilized to examine the specificity of reactivity ratings for substance cues. Participants were grouped based on their history of substance use prior to their incarceration using information collected during clinical interviews used for admittance to the RDAP (see Methods section for details). "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background:
Research on reactivity to alcohol and drug cues has either ignored affective state altogether or has focused rather narrowly on the role of negative affect in craving. Moreover, until recently, the relevant analyses of affect and craving have rarely addressed the ambivalence often associated with craving itself. The current study investigated how both negative and positive affect moderate approach and avoidance inclinations associated with cue-elicited craving in a clinical sample diagnosed with substance use disorders.
One hundred forty-four patients (age range of 18-65, mean 42.0; n=92 males) were recruited from an inpatient detoxification unit for substance abuse. Participants completed a baseline assessment of both positive and negative affect prior to completing a cue-reactivity paradigm for which they provided self-report ratings of inclinations to approach (use) and avoid (not use) alcohol, cigarettes, and non-psychoactive control substances (food and beverages).
Participants with elevated negative affect reported significantly higher approach ratings for cigarette and alcohol cues, whereas those high in positive affect showed significantly higher levels of avoidance inclinations for both alcohol and cigarette cues and also significantly lower approach ratings for alcohol cues, all relative to control cues.
Results for negative affect are consistent with previous cue reactivity research, whereas results for positive affect are unique and call attention to its clinical potential for attenuating approach inclinations to substance use cues. Further, positive affect was related to both approach and avoidance inclinations, underscoring the utility of a multidimensional conceptualization of craving in the analysis.
Full-text · Article · Dec 2012 · Addictive behaviors
"In human drug users, drug-paired cues have been reported to trigger cravings that are thought to motivate increased drug consumption or produce a relapse of drug selfadministration even after a prolonged period of abstinence (Childress et al., 1987, 1988; O'Brien et al., 1992; Robbins and Ehrman, 1992). This phenomenon has also been demonstrated in the animal laboratory where the presentation of drug-paired cues has been shown to reinstate drug-reinforced responding that had been weakened through a period of non-reinforced extinction responding (Crombag et al., 2008; Shaham et al., 2003). "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cocaine has been shown to have initial positive (euphoric) and delayed negative (anxiogenic) effects in both humans and animals. Cocaine-paired cues are consequently imbued with mixed positive and negative associations. The current study examines the relative roles of these dual associations in the enhanced drug-seeking observed upon presentation of cocaine-paired cues. Rats ran a straight alley once/day for a single i.v. injection of cocaine (1.0 mg/kg/inj) in the presence of a distinctive olfactory cue (scented cotton swabs placed under the apparatus). An alternate scent was presented in a separate cage 2-h prior to runway testing. After 15 trials/days, the scents and cocaine reinforcer were removed and a series of extinction trials (lasting for 1 or 3 weeks) was initiated. Immediately following extinction, runway responding was tested during a single trial in the presence of the cocaine-paired or non-paired cue. As previously reported, while subjects initiated responding faster over trials (reduced latencies to leave the start box), they exhibited a progressive increase in approach-avoidance conflict behavior ("retreats") regarding goal-box entry, reflecting cocaine's dual positive+negative effects. Once established, retreat behaviors persisted over the course of 1 or 3 weeks days of extinction. However, both run times and retreats decreased in response to presentation of the cocaine-paired but not the non-paired scent. These data suggest that, after reinforcer removal, cue-induced cocaine-seeking stems in part from a reduction in approach-avoidance conflict; i.e., a greater weakening of the negative relative to the positive associations that animals form with cocaine-paired stimuli.
Full-text · Article · Jan 2012 · Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior