Evidence from a number of substance abuse populations suggests that substance abuse is associated with a cluster of differences in cognitive processes. However, investigations of this kind in non-clinical samples are relatively few. The present study examined the ability of alcohol-attentional bias (an alcohol Stroop task), impulsive decision-making (a delay discounting task), and impaired inhibitory control (a GO-NOGO task) to: (a) discriminate problem from non-problem drinkers among a sample of college students; (b) predict scores on the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT; a measure of alcohol consumption, drinking behaviour, and alcohol-related problems) across all of the student drinkers; (c) predict AUDIT scores within the subgroups of problem and non-problem student drinkers. In logistic regression controlling for gender and age, student drinkers with elevated alcohol-attentional bias and impulsive decision-making were over twice as likely to be a problem than a non-problem drinker. Multiple regression analysis of the entire sample revealed that all three cognitive measures were significant predictors of AUDIT scores after gender and age had been controlled; the cognitive variables together accounted for 48% of the variance. Moreover, subsequent multiple regressions revealed that impaired inhibitory control was the only significant predictor of AUDIT scores for the group of non-problem drinkers, and alcohol-attentional bias and impulsive decision-making were the only significant predictors of AUDIT scores for the group of problem drinkers. Finally, both impulsive decision-making and impaired inhibitory control were significantly correlated with alcohol-attentional bias across the whole sample. Implications are discussed relating to the development of problematic drinking.
Trinity College Dublin ->