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Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2018 Mar;235(3):695-708. doi: 10.1007/s00213-017-4785-4. Epub 2017 Nov 27.

A high working memory load prior to memory retrieval reduces craving in non-treatment seeking problem drinkers.

Author information

1
Addiction Development and Psychopathology (ADAPT) Lab, Department of Developmental Psychology, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. amkaag@gmail.com.
2
Amsterdam Brain and Cognition, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. amkaag@gmail.com.
3
Amsterdam Brain and Cognition, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
4
Department of Psychiatry, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
5
Arkin Mental Health Care & Amsterdam Institute for Addiction Research, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
6
Department of Anatomy and Neurosciences, Amsterdam Neuroscience, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
7
Addiction Development and Psychopathology (ADAPT) Lab, Department of Developmental Psychology, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Reconsolidation-based interventions have been suggested to be a promising treatment strategy for substance use disorders. In this study, we aimed to investigate the effectiveness of a working memory intervention to interfere with the reconsolidation of alcohol-related memories in a sample of non-treatment seeking heavy drinkers.

METHODS:

Participants were randomized to one of the two conditions that underwent a 3-day intervention: in the experimental condition, a 30-min working memory training was performed immediately after a 15-min memory retrieval session (i.e., within the memory reconsolidation time-window), whereas in the control condition, the working memory training was performed prior to a memory retrieval session.

RESULTS:

In contrast to our original hypothesis, a high working memory load after memory retrieval did not interfere with the reconsolidation of those memories while a high working memory load prior to memory retrieval (the original control condition) strongly reduced retrieval-induced craving and craving for alcohol at follow-up.

CONCLUSION:

Whereas the neurocognitive mechanism behind this effect needs to be further investigated, the current findings suggest that, if replicated, working memory training prior to addiction-related memory retrieval has the potential to become an effective (adjunctive) intervention in the treatment of substance use disorders.

KEYWORDS:

Alcohol; Craving; Memory reconsolidation; Skin conductance; Working memory

PMID:
29181814
PMCID:
PMC5847068
DOI:
10.1007/s00213-017-4785-4
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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