The Effects of Working Memory Load and Attention Refocusing on Delay Discounting Rates in Alcohol Dependence with Comorbid Antisocial Personality Disorder

Executive working memory capacity (eWMC) is central to adaptive decision-making. Research has revealed reduced eWMC and higher rates of impulsive decision-making in those with alcohol use disorders (AUDs: DSM-IV Alcohol Dependence of Alcohol Abuse) and antisocial psychopathology (AP). Recent work has shown that placing a load on working memory (WM) further increases impulsive decision-making on the delay discounting (DD) task in those with AUDs and AP. The current study examined the effects of an attention refocusing manipulation to offset the effects of this WM-load on DD rates in control subjects, those with AUDs without AP, and AUDs with AP (AUD-AP). Results revealed that (1) the AUD-AP group had higher DD rates (i.e., more impulsive decision-making) than the AUD group, followed by controls, and, (2) attention refocusing after a load is placed on WM was associated with lower DD rates compared to the load without refocusing in both AUD groups, but not controls. Results suggest that refocusing attention after a cognitive load may be an effective cognitive strategy for reducing the impulsivity-enhancing effects of cognitive load on decision-making in individuals with AUDs and AP.

Publication Date:
Nov 23 2017
Date Submitted:
Nov 21 2018
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 Record created 2018-11-21, last modified 2019-04-03

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