By Maike Klein (University of Bath, UK)

Session 3.1 of the PhD Symposium focused on the impact of cognitive aspects on addictive processes and included four presentations.

Alcohol and executive functioning

Firstly, Anna Powell from Liverpool John Moores University presented on executive function deficits in non-dependent hazardous drinkers. She used a cross-sectional design to evaluate the difference in subjective executive functioning between hazardous and non-hazardous drinkers. Her study showed that hazardous drinking was associated with lower subjective executive functioning which might be contributing to the effects of alcohol on alcohol-related problems.



Next up was Katherine Herlinger, from Imperial College London, who presented on characterising the neural correlates of reward and emotion in alcohol and opiate dependence. This study draws from data of three, funded neuroimaging studies. In this presentation, Katherine mainly focused on the initial findings and preliminary conclusions from the analysis of datasets of one of these three studies (i.e. the GHADD – Gut Hormones in Addiction study). Her preliminary findings suggested that there are similarities in the neurobiology of attenuated non-salient anticipatory reward responses in abstinent alcohol, nicotine dependence and dieting obesity.


Khat, memory and cognition

Thirdly, Ayan Ahmed from the University of Surrey presented on how chronic khat use is associated with poorer working memory, selective attention and cognitive flexibility. Her findings showed that students with chronic khat use performed poorly in the working memory and cognitive flexibility tasks. This study suggests that chronic khat use impacts a person’s cognitive abilities, and therefore may limit the students’ academic performance. 

[Presentation not available]


Alcohol, soft drinks and value-based decisions

Lastly, Amber Copeland from the University of Sheffield presented on modelling value-based decision-making after experimental manipulation of the value of alcohol. Her study investigated how the manipulation of alcohol value alters a person’s decision-making regarding the consumption of alcohol and soft drinks. Her findings showed that the manipulation of alcohol value altered the decision-making for consumption of soft drinks. Amber concluded from her study that alcohol devaluation may influence alcohol choice if there are also alterations in the value ascribed to a non-alcohol alternative (e.g. soft drink).



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