Intact Preference Conditioning in Acute Intoxication Despite Deficient Declarative Knowledge and Working Memory
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BACKGROUND: The impact of alcohol on implicit, emotional learning is not well understood, partly because family history, drug use, and task demands influence these processes. The conditioned pattern preference (CPP) task provides a more ecologically valid means to investigate implicit cognition in the lab because it has low demand awareness and relies on learning to associate nonverbal cues with reward. METHODS: This study examined the effects of acute alcohol intoxication on implicit learning using the CPP task in 83 intoxicated and 69 sober young adults. Information on individual drug use, family history, impulsivity, and alcohol expectancies was also collected. RESULTS: Alcohol intoxication affected explicit, but not implicit learning on the CPP task. In addition, participants who reported a positive family history of addiction (FH+) or individual recreational drug use did not exhibit a preference for cues previously paired with reward. CONCLUSIONS: Preference formation on the CPP task recruits motivational neurocircuitry, an effect that is unaltered by alcohol. Group differences in implicit emotional learning on this task may represent neurocognitive differences in individuals at risk for addiction.
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