Subscribe: Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology - Vol 17, Iss 6
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Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology - Vol 25, Iss 1

Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology seeks to promote the discipline of psychopharmacology in its fullest diversity. Psychopharmacology necessarily involves behavioral change, psychological processes, or their physiological substrates as one centr

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Copyright: Copyright 2017 American Psychological Association

Altered subjective reward valuation among female heavy marijuana users.


Maladaptive decision-making is a cardinal feature of drug use, contributing to ongoing use, and reflecting alterations in how drug users assess uncertain reward value. Accumulating evidence indicates the consequences of heavy marijuana use are worse for female versus male animals and humans, but research assessing sex differences in reward-related decision-making among marijuana users remains scarce. We examined sex differences in the subjective valuation of certain and uncertain rewards among heavy marijuana users (52; 26 male and 26 female) and controls (52; 26 male and 26 female). We offered male and female heavy marijuana users and controls monetary rewards of certain and uncertain (probabilistic) values. We measured how preferences for uncertain rewards varied by the objective value of those rewards, moderators of reward uncertainty, Marijuana Group and Sex. Men were more sensitive to changes in the objective value of uncertain rewards than women. However, this effect of Sex differed by Marijuana Group. Female heavy marijuana users were more sensitive to changes in uncertain reward value, particularly when the “stakes” were high (i.e., greater difference between potential uncertain rewards), than female controls. Female heavy marijuana users’ sensitivity to changes in the value of high stakes uncertain rewards was comparable to male marijuana users and controls. In contrast, male marijuana users’ sensitivity to changes in the value of high stakes uncertain rewards did not differ from male controls. These results suggest sex differences in sensitivity to high risk rewards may be one pathway contributing to severer consequences of heavy marijuana use among women. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

The effects of contextual familiarity on alcohol expectancies.


Social familiarity has been widely studied by researchers across a range of psychological disciplines, with level of familiarity in social context being indicated as a powerful factor influencing affective and motivational states. The degree of familiarity among drinking companions has further been linked to patterns of alcohol use, with regular drinking in unfamiliar social settings being associated with heavy consumption and drinking in highly familiar settings being indicated as a potentially protective factor. But social familiarity has received relatively little attention in relation to the psychological and cognitive processes supporting alcohol consumption. Here, in 2 studies, we explore the effects of social familiarity as it relates to alcohol expectancies—psychological processes believed to serve as among the most proximal determinants of alcohol consumption. In Study 1, we use a between-subjects design to explore the effects of familiarity in a sample of 400 undergraduates (40% male), producing evidence that individuals believe that alcohol consumption will be associated with significantly greater social enhancement and tension reduction when it is consumed in the company of unfamiliar versus familiar individuals. In Study 2 (N = 107; 41% male), we replicate these effects using a within-subject design and reveal effects of familiarity that are large in magnitude. Results of these studies provide initial evidence for familiarity among drinking companions as a factor driving beliefs surrounding alcohol’s effects, and indicate familiarity as a potentially promising line of inquiry for future research exploring determinants of drinking. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

“Do grown-ups become happy when they drink?” Alcohol expectancies among preschoolers.


Despite ample evidence on risky drinking in adolescence and beyond, little is known about early alcohol-related precursors. The present study investigates whether preschool children are already familiar with the emotional changes that are likely to occur when people drink alcohol, that is, their alcohol expectancies. Based on the circumplex model of affect (CMA; Russell, 1980), expectancies (12 items for alcohol and 12 for soft drinks) were assessed using the Berkeley Puppet Interview (BPI; Measelle, Ablow, Cowan, & Cowan, 1998) among 198 3- to 6-year-olds (52.5% girls) in French-speaking Switzerland who had some knowledge of alcoholic beverages. Confirmatory factor analysis confirmed the 4-dimensional factor structure (arousal-positive, arousal-negative, sedation-positive, sedation-negative) as assumed by the CMA for alcohol expectancies but not for soft drink expectancies. For the former, intraclass correlation coefficients showed an excellent interrater reliability and a satisfactory test–retest reliability. A paired-sample t test revealed that girls in particular endorsed positive alcohol expectancies more frequently than negative expectancies. There was no significant age difference in any expectancy dimension. This study indicates that alcohol expectancies already exist in preschoolers and that, even at this early age, expectancies can be classified according to the dimensions of valence and activation. This is important because alcohol expectancies have been found to be important predictors of early alcohol initiation and the development of risky drinking patterns later in life. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Neural outcome processing of peer-influenced risk-taking behavior in late adolescence: Preliminary evidence for gene × environment interactions.


Adolescent brains are particularly susceptible to the rewarding properties of risky decisions in social contexts. Individual differences in genetic influences on dopamine transmission moderate neural outcome processing of risky decisions and may exert pronounced effects on adolescent risk-taking behavior (RTB) and corresponding neural outcome processing in peer contexts, a process called gene-environment interaction (G × E). Eighty-five undergraduate students completed a behavioral risk task alone and in the presence of a confederate peer providing “risky” feedback. We tested for G × E effects using a polygenic risk index that included 3 candidate genetic variations associated with high dopamine transmission efficiency, as well as the moderating role of family history of behavioral disinhibition. Difference waves for the P300 and FRN (i.e., feedback-related negativity) were examined as indices of neural outcome processing. A G × E effect was observed for RTB and the P300, but not the FRN. Family history of behavioral disinhibition also interacted with peer influence to predict P300 amplitude. These data provide preliminary evidence for G × E for peer-influenced RTB and neural outcome processing during late adolescence. Genetic influences on dopaminergic function may be particularly relevant for attentional and motivational neural systems, as indexed by the P300, which exert downstream effects on peer-influenced RTB. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Effects of bupropion sustained release on task-related EEG alpha activity in smokers: Individual differences in drug response.


The mechanisms underlying bupropion’s efficacy as an antidepressant and a smoking cessation aid are far from being fully characterized. The present study is the first to examine the effects of bupropion on visuospatial task-related parietal EEG alpha power asymmetry—an asymmetry that has previously been found to be associated with severity of depressive symptoms (i.e., the more depressive symptoms, the greater alpha power in the right vs. left parietal area [Henriques & Davidson, 1997; Rabe, Debener, Brocke, & Beauducel, 2005]). Participants, all of whom were smokers and none of whom were clinically depressed, were randomly assigned to the Placebo group (n = 79) or Bupropion group (n = 31) in a double-blind study. EEG during the performance of the visuospatial task was collected before and after 14 days on placebo or bupropion sustained-release capsules. Relative to the Placebo group, the Bupropion group (especially, the Bupropion subgroup who had a positive right versus left parietal alpha power asymmetry at pretreatment) had a reduction in the parietal alpha asymmetry (driven largely by a decrease in right parietal alpha power). These findings support the hypothesis that bupropion can induce changes in parietal EEG asymmetry that have been shown in previous literature to be associated with a reduction in depressive states and traits. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

A novel training approach to activate alternative behaviors for smoking in depressed smokers.


The current research developed and tested a novel training strategy to alter the implicit associations between alternative behaviors to smoking and negative affect, and explored its effects on depressive symptoms and on smoking behavior as part of a quit attempt. Using a joystick, participants identified as smokers with depressive symptoms were trained to approach alternative behaviors to smoking in the context of negative affect. Specifically, in the experimental condition, participants were trained to avoid smoking-related targets and to approach alternative activities. In the control condition, participants pushed and pulled an equal amount of smoking and alternative activity-related targets. Compared with the participants in the control condition, those in the experimental condition showed an increase in the accessibility of the alternative activity relative to smoking and a decrease in depressive symptoms. Smoking outcomes did not differ significantly across the 2 conditions. Taken together these results indicate that the value of alternative behaviors to smoking can be modified in the lab without participants’ conscious intentions with implications for depressive symptomatology. Future research is required to explore the impact of such training on smoking outcomes. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)