A new test to measure attentional bias and cognitive disinhibition in drinkers, based on the Hayling task.

Yuk Mei Mason-Li, Abi Rose, Darran Nicholas, Malcolm Hobbs

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    To generate and pilot unfinished sentences, based on the Hayling Task of disinhibition, which could be completed with alcohol or non-alcohol words. To determine whether drinking habits influenced responses on the new sentences, which may advance understanding of the cognitive processes underlying alcohol-related behaviours.


    Three phases: I-Generation of appropriate sentences (via email correspondence); II-Sentence completion to establish proportion of alcohol-related and non-alcohol-related responses; III-A Hayling-style task using the sentences (laboratory-based). During the Hayling task, sentences were completed with the first word that came to mind (initiation task), and with a word that did not make semantic sense (inhibition task). In Phase III, the alcohol use disorder identification test (AUDIT) was also completed to determine whether drinking habits were related to responses.


    Fifteen sentences were generated and tested. Compared with low hazardous drinkers, higher hazardous drinkers gave more alcohol-related responses; persisted in giving alcohol responses in the inhibition task; and were slower to make non-alcohol-related responses. A positive correlation was found between AUDIT score and number of alcohol-related responses.


    A new alcohol-related sentence-completion tool, based upon the Hayling disinhibition task, was developed and piloted. Responses on the task were associated with measures of alcohol use disorders. The task can be used in research investigating the processes underlying the acute and chronic effects of alcohol, such as attentional bias and disinhibition. In future, the task could be used in conjunction with non-alcohol-related sentence completion tasks to investigate general and alcohol-specific processes of disinhibition.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)501-506
    Number of pages5
    JournalAlcohol and Alcoholism
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


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