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See detailUnderstanding Attentional Biases in Severe Alcohol Use Disorder: A Combined Behavioral and Eye-Tracking Perspective.
Bollen, Zoé; D'Hondt, Fabien; Dormal, Valérie et al

in Alcohol and alcoholism (Oxford, Oxfordshire) (2021), 56(1), 1-7

RATIONALE: Severe alcohol use disorder (SAUD) is a psychiatric condition linked to cerebral and cognitive consequences. SAUD is notably characterized by an overactivation of the reflexive/reward system ... [more ▼]

RATIONALE: Severe alcohol use disorder (SAUD) is a psychiatric condition linked to cerebral and cognitive consequences. SAUD is notably characterized by an overactivation of the reflexive/reward system when confronted with alcohol-related cues. Such overreactivity generates a preferential allocation of attentional resources toward these cues, labeled as attentional biases (AB). Theoretical assumptions have been made regarding the characteristics of AB and their underlying processes. While often considered as granted, these assumptions remain to be experimentally validated. AIMS: We first identify the theoretical assumptions made by previous studies exploring the nature and role of AB. We then discuss the current evidence available to establish their validity. We finally propose research avenues to experimentally test them. METHODS: Capitalizing on a narrative review of studies exploring AB in SAUD, the current limits of the behavioral measures used for their evaluation are highlighted as well as the benefits derived from the use of eye-tracking measures to obtain a deeper understanding of their underlying processes. We describe the issues related to the theoretical proposals on AB and propose research avenues to test them. Four experimental axes are proposed, respectively, related to the determination of (a) the genuine nature of the mechanisms underlying AB; (b) their stability over the disease course; (c) their specificity to alcohol-related stimuli and (d) their reflexive or controlled nature. CONCLUSIONS: This in-depth exploration of the available knowledge related to AB in SAUD, and of its key limitations, highlights the theoretical and clinical interest of our innovative experimental perspectives capitalizing on eye-tracking measures. [less ▲]

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See detailCraving is everything: An eye-tracking exploration of attentional bias in binge drinking.
Bollen, Zoé; Masson, Nicolas UL; Salvaggio, Samuel et al

in Journal of Psychopharmacology (2020), 34(6), 636-647

BACKGROUND: Attentional bias towards alcohol-related stimuli is a core characteristic of severe alcohol use disorders (AUD), directly linked to clinical variables (e.g. alcohol consumption, relapse ... [more ▼]

BACKGROUND: Attentional bias towards alcohol-related stimuli is a core characteristic of severe alcohol use disorders (AUD), directly linked to clinical variables (e.g. alcohol consumption, relapse). Nevertheless, the extent of this bias in subclinical populations remains poorly documented. This is particularly true for binge drinking, an alcohol consumption pattern highly prevalent in youth, characterised by an alternation between excessive intakes and withdrawal periods. AIMS: We used eye-tracking to: (a) measure attentional bias in binge drinking, (b) determine its time course by dissociating early/late processing stages, (c) clarify its specificity for alcohol-related stimuli compared to other appetitive stimulations and (d) explore its modulation by current craving intensity. METHODS: Binge drinkers (n=42) and matched controls (n=43) performed a visual probe task, requiring visual targets preceded by pairs of pictures to be processed, with three conditions (i.e. alcohol vs. soft drink, alcohol vs. high-calorie food, high-calorie food vs. low-calorie food). RESULTS: No group difference was observed for early processing (i.e. first area of interest visited). Dwell times highlighted a bias towards soft drinks and healthy food among controls, without any global bias towards alcohol in binge drinkers. Centrally, a comparison of binge drinkers with low versus high current craving intensity indicated that binge drinking was associated with a bias towards alcohol and high-calorie food only in the presence of a high craving towards these stimuli. CONCLUSION: Attentional bias towards alcohol reported in severe AUD is only found in binge drinkers in the presence of high craving and is generalised to other appetitive cues. [less ▲]

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See detailSpatial biases in mental arithmetic are independent of reading/writing habits: Evidence from French and Arabic speakers.
Masson, Nicolas UL; Andres, Michael; Alsamour, Marie et al

in Cognition (2020), 200

The representation of numbers in human adults is linked to space. In Western cultures, small and large numbers are associated respectively with the left and right sides of space. An influential framework ... [more ▼]

The representation of numbers in human adults is linked to space. In Western cultures, small and large numbers are associated respectively with the left and right sides of space. An influential framework attributes the emergence of these spatial-numerical associations (SNAs) to cultural factors such as the direction of reading and writing, because SNAs were found to be reduced or inverted in right-to-left readers/writers (e.g., Arabic, Farsi, or Hebrew speakers). However, recent cross-cultural and animal studies cast doubt on the determining role of reading and writing directions on SNAs. In this study, we assessed this role in mental arithmetic, which requires explicit number manipulations and has revealed robust leftward or rightward biases in Western participants. We used a temporal order judgement task in French and Arabic speakers, two languages that have opposite reading/writing directions. Participants had to solve subtraction and addition problems presented auditorily while at the same time determining which of a left or right visual target appeared first on a screen. The results showed that the right target was favoured more often when solving additions than when solving subtractions both in the French- (n = 31) and Arabic-speaking (n = 25) groups. This was true even in Arabic-speaking participants whose preference for ordering of various series of numerical and non-numerical stimuli went from right to left (n = 10). These results indicate that SNAs in mental arithmetic cannot be explained by the direction of reading/writing habits and call for a reconsideration of current models to acknowledge the pervasive role of biological factors in SNAs in adults. [less ▲]

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See detailEye tracking correlates of acute alcohol consumption: A systematic and critical review.
Maurage, Pierre; Masson, Nicolas UL; Bollen, Zoé et al

in Neuroscience and biobehavioral reviews (2020), 108

Eye tracking has emerged as a reliable neuroscience tool indexing the eye movements' correlates of impairments resulting from alcohol-use disorders, ranging from perceptive abilities to high-level ... [more ▼]

Eye tracking has emerged as a reliable neuroscience tool indexing the eye movements' correlates of impairments resulting from alcohol-use disorders, ranging from perceptive abilities to high-level cognitive functions. This systematic review, following PRISMA guidelines, encompasses all human studies using eye tracking in participants presenting acute alcohol consumption. A literature search was conducted in PsycINFO, PubMed and Scopus, and a standardized methodological quality assessment was performed. Eye tracking studies were classified according to the processes measured (perception, attentional bias, memory, executive functions, prevention message processing). Eye tracking data centrally showed a global visuo-motor impairment (related to reduced cerebellar functioning) following alcohol intoxication, together with reduced memory and inhibitory control of eye movements. Conversely, the impact of such intoxication on alcohol-related attentional bias is still debated. The limits of this literature have been identified, leading to the emergence of new research avenues to increase the understanding of eye movements during alcohol intoxication, and to the proposal of guidelines for future research. [less ▲]

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See detailEye Tracking Studies Exploring Cognitive and Affective Processes among Alcohol Drinkers: a Systematic Review and Perspectives.
Maurage, Pierre; Bollen, Zoé; Masson, Nicolas UL et al

in Neuropsychology review (2020)

Acute alcohol intoxication and alcohol use disorders are characterized by a wide range of psychological and cerebral impairments, which have been widely explored using neuropsychological and ... [more ▼]

Acute alcohol intoxication and alcohol use disorders are characterized by a wide range of psychological and cerebral impairments, which have been widely explored using neuropsychological and neuroscientific techniques. Eye tracking has recently emerged as an innovative tool to renew this exploration, as eye movements offer complementary information on the processes underlying perceptive, attentional, memory or executive abilities. Building on this, the present systematic and critical literature review provides a comprehensive overview of eye tracking studies exploring cognitive and affective processes among alcohol drinkers. Using PRISMA guidelines, 36 papers that measured eye movements among alcohol drinkers were extracted from three databases (PsycINFO, PubMed, Scopus). They were assessed for methodological quality using a standardized procedure, and categorized based on the main cognitive function measured, namely perceptive abilities, attentional bias, executive function, emotion and prevention/intervention. Eye tracking indexes showed that alcohol-related disorders are related to: (1) a stable pattern of basic eye movement impairments, particularly during alcohol intoxication; (2) a robust attentional bias, indexed by increased dwell times for alcohol-related stimuli; (3) a reduced inhibitory control on saccadic movements; (4) an increased pupillary reactivity to visual stimuli, regardless of their emotional content; (5) a limited visual attention to prevention messages. Perspectives for future research are proposed, notably encouraging the exploration of eye movements in severe alcohol use disorders and the establishment of methodological gold standards for eye tracking measures in this field. [less ▲]

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See detailA review of studies exploring fetal alcohol spectrum disorders through eye tracking measures.
Maurage, Pierre; Bollen, Zoé; Masson, Nicolas UL et al

in Progress in neuro-psychopharmacology & biological psychiatry (2020), 103

The widespread cognitive and cerebral consequences of prenatal alcohol exposure have been established during the last decades, through the exploration of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) using ... [more ▼]

The widespread cognitive and cerebral consequences of prenatal alcohol exposure have been established during the last decades, through the exploration of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) using neuropsychological and neuroscience tools. This research field has recently benefited from the emergence of innovative measures, among which eye tracking, allowing a precise measure of the eye movements indexing a large range of cognitive functions. We propose a comprehensive review, based on PRISMA guidelines, of the eye tracking studies performed in populations with FASD. Studies were selected from the PsycINFO, PubMed and Scopus databases, and were evaluated through a standardized methodological quality assessment. Studies were classified according to the eye tracking indexes recorded (saccade characteristics, initial fixation, number of fixations, dwell time, gaze pattern) and the process measured (perception, memory, executive functions). Eye tracking data showed that FASD are mostly associated with impaired ocular perceptive/motor abilities (i.e., altered eye movements, centrally for saccade initiation), lower accuracy as well as increased error rates in saccadic eye movements involving working memory abilities, and reduced inhibitory control on saccades. After identifying the main limitations presented by the reviewed studies, we propose guidelines for future research, underlining the need to increase the standardization of diagnosis and evaluation tools, and to improve the methodological quality of eye tracking measures. [less ▲]

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