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NIAAA-supported study will examine cognitive training in alcoholics

October 3, 2014
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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An Indiana University clinical psychologist will use a $2.3 million National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) grant to expand the understanding of cognitive training's potential in improving decision-making skills in early-onset alcoholics. An Oct. 1 news release from the university states that while cognitive training techniques have become prominent in the treatment of many behavioral disorders, little controlled research has been conducted to evaluate its effectiveness.

Peter Finn, PhD's study will examine three groups of subjects. Two will be young adults whose alcohol abuse problems began before age 20; participants in one of those two groups also will have a history of impulsive and antisocial behavior. The third group will have no alcohol abuse or impulse control problems. The study is not a clinical trial.

Cognitive training encompasses methods for focusing an individual's attention and improving working memory. The NIAAA-funded study will examine the effects of an attentional refocusing technique and a working memory training program on working memory and risky decision-making.

Finn said that the research will carry important implications for relapse to alcohol use, which often occurs during stressful periods during which working memory is compromised.

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