Experimental investigations of the cognitive and social processes involved in addiction



1.     Project title: Human sign-tracking: how attentional bias to reward cues is affected by lower, but not higher, doses of alcohol.

Principal investigator: Dr Jay Duckworth

Project summary: This ongoing study consists of two laboratory experiments investigating how different doses of alcohol acutely affect automatic attentional orienting towards discrete reward-associated cues (or sign-tracking), compared to non-alcohol drinks. These experiments hope to elucidate the cognitive moderators of craving and consumption.

2.     Project title: Sign-tracking paradigms evoke neural activation in regions linked to cue-induced substance craving, an fMRI study

Principal investigator: Dr Jay Duckworth

Project summary: In parallel to investigating how alcohol affects sign-tracking (above), this study (again consisting of two lab experiments, an original and a direct replication [ongoing]) attempts to assess how sign-tracking is influenced by the number of reward-associated cues in the environment. Importantly, these experiments also measure how the variety of reward-paired cues (low vs. medium vs. high rewards) affect attentional bias towards each individual type of cue, and how this relates to individual differences.

3.     Project title: Investigating links between the use of screens and a variety of outcomes including mental health, cognition and sleep

Principal investigator: Dr Suzi Gage

Project summary: Using secondary data analyses and experimental designs, this project of work aims to unpick associations between screen time and a variety of health and mental health outcomes. It will be particularly focusing on patterns of screen use, types of screens, and different activities conducted via screens, as well as investigating what other behaviours differ between groups.

4. Project title: Can glass labels influence drinking behaviour?

Principal investigator: Dr Abi Rose

Project summary: Many traditional information-based health strategies fail to change health behaviours. It is possible that changing elements of the environment, may influence drinking behaviour. Using our bar-lab, this research covers a series of studies investigating whether changing aspects of standard drinking glasses reduces drinking behaviour. We are assessing serving size, glass shape, and inclusion of glass labels (e.g. presenting calorie, exercise equivalent information). Importantly, by using a more realistic drinking environment and often testing in a more social context (e.g. recruiting friends) we are able to determine how effective such environmental-based interventions would be in the real world.

5. Project title: The impact of hormonal states, across the menstrual cycle, on alcohol behaviour

Principal investigator: Dr Abi Rose

6. Project title: The influence of specific genetic variants on alcohol behaviour. 

Principal investigator: Dr Abi Rose