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Acute effects of alcohol on social and personal decision making
Linköping University, Department of Biomedical and Clinical Sciences, Center for Social and Affective Neuroscience. Linköping University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. Region Östergötland, Psykiatricentrum, Psykiatriska kliniken i Linköping.
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Economics. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2994-0541
Linköping University, Department of Biomedical and Clinical Sciences, Center for Social and Affective Neuroscience. Linköping University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.
Linköping University, Department of Biomedical and Clinical Sciences, Center for Social and Affective Neuroscience. Linköping University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.
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2022 (English)In: Neuropsychopharmacology, ISSN 0893-133X, E-ISSN 1740-634X, Vol. 47, no 4, p. 824-831Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Social drinking is common, but it is unclear how moderate levels of alcohol influence decision making. Most prior studies have focused on adverse long-term effects on cognitive and executive function in people with alcohol use disorders (AUD). Some studies have investigated the acute effects of alcohol on decision making in healthy people, but have predominantly used small samples and focused on a narrow selection of tasks related to personal decision making, e.g., delay or probability discounting. Here, we conducted a large (n = 264), preregistered randomized placebo-controlled study (RCT) using a parallel group design, to systematically assess the acute effects of alcohol on measures of decision making in both personal and social domains. We found a robust effect of a 0.6 g/kg dose of alcohol on both moral judgment and altruistic behavior, but no effects on several measures of risk taking or waiting impulsivity. These findings suggest that alcohol at low to moderate doses selectively moderates decision making in the social domain, and promotes utilitarian decisions over those dictated by rule-based ethical principles (deontological). This is consistent with existing theory that emphasizes the dual roles of shortsighted information processing and salient social cues in shaping decisions made under the influence of alcohol. A better understanding of these effects is important to understand altered social functioning during alcohol intoxication.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
SPRINGERNATURE , 2022. Vol. 47, no 4, p. 824-831
National Category
Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-181190DOI: 10.1038/s41386-021-01218-9ISI: 000715707700003PubMedID: 34750564OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-181190DiVA, id: diva2:1613449
Note

Funding Agencies|Swedish Research CouncilSwedish Research CouncilEuropean Commission [MH: 2013-07434, GT: 2018-01755]; Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and WelfareSwedish Research CouncilSwedish Research Council for Health Working Life & Welfare (Forte) [EP: 2020-00864]

Available from: 2021-11-22 Created: 2021-11-22 Last updated: 2024-01-10
In thesis
1. From social drinking to alcohol addiction: Decision making and its neural substrates along a spectrum from social drinking to alcohol addiction
Open this publication in new window or tab >>From social drinking to alcohol addiction: Decision making and its neural substrates along a spectrum from social drinking to alcohol addiction
2024 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

For a minority of alcohol users, the initial sip of alcohol marks the start of a life-threatening process. This thesis studies cognitive mechanisms pertinent to alcohol addiction and its development, using a spectrum of individuals that range from healthy social drinkers, through people with hazardous use, to those suffering from alcohol addiction. 

Decision making can be altered in addiction, but less is known on the direct pharmacodynamic effects of alcohol intake in healthy people. Study 1 addressed decision making under the effects of moderate alcohol intoxication in healthy social drinkers using established behavioral economics tasks. The investigated processes encompassed both personal and social aspects of decision making. Within the personal domain, impulsivity and risk taking were investigated, while in the social domain, prosocial attitudes along with moral judgment were assessed. Moderate alcohol intoxication was found to impact only the social domain, leading to increased prosocial and utilitarian behaviors, but did not affect measures of impulsivity. 

Choosing alcohol over other natural rewards despite negative consequences is a central phenomenon of alcohol addiction. Two studies of this thesis investigated choice preference for alcohol compared to snack, using a cost manipulation paradigm, in light and heavy drinkers. Study 2 was a laboratory experiment whereas Study 3 was an imaging experiment for characterization of neural substrates. Cost was an important predictor of choice, as in both groups, alcohol choice was sensitive to cost in a parametric manner. This was mirrored in the brain by activity in value-based and salience regions, including orbitofrontal cortex and insula. In Study 2 we found that heavy drinkers showed generally higher alcohol choice preference and attenuated cost sensitivity. Failure to replicate this finding in Study 3, was possibly due to the artificial scanner environment. 

Craving is a key component in the cycle of addiction and a determinant of relapse, making it an important target for treatment interventions. Study 4 was a randomized sham-controlled trial using repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) targeting the insula as a method to reduce craving and alcohol use in people suffering from alcohol addiction. An overall decrease in alcohol consumption and craving were seen, but did not differ between sham stimulation and rTMS targeting the insula. 

In summary, this thesis provides some insights into cognitive mechanisms related to alcohol addiction and processes that may be implicated in its development. During a moderate acute alcohol intoxication in healthy social drinkers, social decision-making is influenced, leading to increased utilitarian and altruistic behaviors. Thus, deficits in prosocial behaviors in people with alcohol addiction are unlikely to result from direct pharmacodynamic effects of alcohol, but are rather likely to reflect a selection of vulnerable individuals, consequences of the addictive process, or both. In individuals at risk of developing alcohol addiction, the sensitivity to the costs associated with choosing alcohol over an alternative reward is largely preserved, though it might be reduced compared to light, non-problem drinkers. Modulation of the insula cortex with TMS was not successful in decreasing alcohol use in individuals with alcohol addiction. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2024. p. 61
Series
Linköping University Medical Dissertations, ISSN 0345-0082 ; 1884
Keywords
alcohol, heavy drinking, alcohol addiction, decision making, alcohol choice, fMRI, rTMS
National Category
Substance Abuse Neurosciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-200129 (URN)10.3384/9789180754088 (DOI)9789180754071 (ISBN)9789180754088 (ISBN)
Public defence
2024-01-26, Storö, Tinnerbäckshuset, Campus US, Linköping, 13:00
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Available from: 2024-01-10 Created: 2024-01-10 Last updated: 2024-01-10Bibliographically approved

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Karlsson, HannaPersson, EmilPerini, IreneYngve, AdamHeilig, MarkusTinghög, Gustav
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Center for Social and Affective NeuroscienceFaculty of Medicine and Health SciencesPsykiatriska kliniken i LinköpingEconomicsFaculty of Arts and Sciences
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