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Drug Alcohol Depend. 2007 Jun 15;89(1):97-101. Epub 2007 Jan 17.

Drug fluency: a potential marker for cocaine use disorders.

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  • 1Brookhaven National Laboratory, Medical Department, Upton, NY 11973-5000, United States.


The goal of the current study was to tailor semantic fluency to increase its sensitivity and ecological validity in the study of drug use disorders. On a newly modified "drug" fluency task, individuals with cocaine use disorders who tested positive for cocaine at study day named more drug-related words than control subjects. The number of words provided on the classical semantic fluency task (animals and fruits/vegetables) did not differ between the groups. While the individuals with cocaine use disorders who tested negative for cocaine at study day did not differ from the control subjects in total words named on this task, a qualitative analysis indicated that both cocaine subgroups provided significantly more words pertaining to the experience of using drugs (paraphernalia, administration) than the matched control subjects. These results demonstrate that compared to classical neurocognitive assessment tools, newly tailored measures may be more sensitive to cocaine use disorders, psychopathologies that are often characterized by mild neuropsychological deficits but a well-circumscribed attentional bias to drug-related cues. Future studies are needed to probe the exact cognitive processes and neural circuitry underlying performance on this cue-sensitive 1-min measure.

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