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Addict Behav. 2015 Sep;48:62-70. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2015.05.004. Epub 2015 May 9.

When abuse primes addiction - automatic activation of alcohol concepts by child maltreatment related cues in emotionally abused alcoholics.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, Bielefeld University, Postbox 100 131, 33501 Bielefeld, Germany. Electronic address: nadine.potthast@uni-bielefeld.de.
2
Department of Psychology, Bielefeld University, Postbox 100 131, 33501 Bielefeld, Germany. Electronic address: frank.neuner@uni-bielefeld.de.
3
Department of Psychology, Bielefeld University, Postbox 100 131, 33501 Bielefeld, Germany. Electronic address: Claudia.catani@uni-bielefeld.de.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

Recent research indicates that there is a link between emotional maltreatment and alcohol dependence (AD), but the underlying mechanisms still need to be clarified. There is reason to assume that maltreatment related cues automatically activate an associative memory network comprising cues eliciting craving as well as alcohol-related responses. The current study aimed to examine this network in AD patients who experienced emotional abuse using a priming paradigm.

METHODS:

A specific priming effect in emotionally abused AD subjects was hypothesized for maltreatment related words that preceded alcohol related words. 49 AD subjects (n=14 with emotional abuse vs. n=35 without emotional abuse) and 34 control subjects performed a priming task with maltreatment related and neutral prime words combined with alcohol related and neutral target words. Maltreatment related words consisted of socially and physically threatening words.

RESULTS:

As hypothesized, a specific priming effect for socially threatening and physically threatening cues was found only in AD subjects with emotional abuse.

CONCLUSIONS:

The present data are the first to provide evidence that child maltreatment related cues automatically activate an associative memory network in alcoholics with emotional abuse experiences.

KEYWORDS:

Alcohol dependence; Associative memory network; Child abuse; Emotional maltreatment; Priming; Underlying mechanisms

PMID:
26001167
DOI:
10.1016/j.addbeh.2015.05.004
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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