Increasing the Temporal Window in Individuals With Alcohol Use Disorder

2019-10-18 11:21:41 | BioPortfolio


Episodic future thinking (EFT) is based on the new science of prospection, which was first identified in a Science publication in 2007 and refers to pre-experiencing the future by simulation. Considerable evidence suggests that prospection is important for understanding human cognition, affect, motivation, and action. Individuals with damaged frontal areas, as well as individuals with alcohol use disorder (AUD), show deficits in planning prospectively. One systematic method to engender prospection is via EFT. EFT, as applied in our prior studies and in this proposal consists of having participants develop positive plausible future events that correspond to several future time frames (e.g., 2 weeks, 1 month, 3 months etc). For each of these timeframes participants are asked to concretize the events (e.g., What are you doing? Who will be there? What will you see, hear, smell, and feel?). We and others have used EFT to decrease delay discounting (DD) in individuals with AUD and smokers, as well as normal weight, overweight, and obese populations when compared to the control condition, control episodic thinking (CET). Consistent with reinforcer pathology, EFT also reduces alcohol valuation in the purchase task among individuals with AUD. However, no study to date has examined whether EFT reduces alcohol self-administration in the laboratory. Moreover, the neural correlates of EFT in AUD are also unknown. In this study, we propose to test an intervention, EFT, which we hypothesize will decrease reinforcer pathology measures in a bar-like setting in the laboratory; that is, EFT will decrease delay discounting, as well as alcohol self-administration, demand, and craving compared to a control episodic thinking (CET) condition. Moreover, we hypothesize EFT will enhance activation in brain regions associated with prospection (e.g., hippocampus and amygdala) and the executive decision system (e.g., DLPFC).


Participants will be randomly assigned to experimental or control groups, stratified by AUDIT scores, SES, age and sex. Based on our 8 years of experience recruiting this population, we expect approximately 66% retention among eligible participants. Therefore, we will enroll approximately 107 participants in order to conclude with 64 completers. Participants will complete: a baseline assessment (S1), an alcohol self-administration session (S2 or S3), an fMRI session (S2 or S3). The alcohol self-administration session and the fMRI session will be completed in counterbalanced order. At the beginning of S2 and S3, participants in both groups will be prompted to generate positive events and related cues through a researcher-administered interview-based questionnaire. EFT group participants will be asked to think about and describe the most positive event that could realistically happen at each of 5 delays in the future (2 weeks, 1 month, 3 months, 1 year, and 5 years). In contrast, participants randomized to the CET condition, will be asked to think about and describe the most positive event that occurred at each of 5 time points from the previous day (7pm-10pm, 4pm-7pm, 1pm-4pm, 10am-1pm, and 7am-10am). For each time point, the participant will be asked to integrate the event and sensory information into concise textual and/or auditory cues to be used in subsequent behavioral tasks. Cue generation will occur prior to both self administration and fMRI sessions (S2 and S3) to maximize the relevancy of cues at both sessions.

Study Design


Alcohol Use Disorder


Episodic Future Thinking, Control Episodic Thinking


Not yet recruiting


Addiction Recovery Research Center

Results (where available)

View Results


Published on BioPortfolio: 2019-10-18T11:21:41-0400

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