Publications by authors named "Séverine Lannoy"

35 Publications

Drinking frequency matters: links between consumption pattern and implicit/explicit attitudes towards alcohol.

Psychopharmacology (Berl) 2021 Mar 1. Epub 2021 Mar 1.

Louvain Experimental Psychopathology research group (LEP), Psychological Science Research Institute, UCLouvain, Place Cardinal Mercier, 10, B-1348, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium.

Rationale: Attitudes towards alcohol constitute a central factor to predict future consumption. Previous studies showed that young adults with risky alcohol consumption present positive implicit and explicit attitudes towards alcohol.

Objectives: It appears crucial to disentangle the relationship between specific consumption patterns (e.g., binge drinking or moderate daily drinking) and these alcohol-related attitudes.

Methods: We compared implicit/explicit positive attitudes towards alcohol among 101 university students distributed in 4 groups [control low-drinking participants (CP), daily drinkers (DD), low binge drinkers (LBD), high binge drinkers (HBD)] differing regarding alcohol consumption profile, to explore the impact of consumption characteristics on alcohol-related attitudes. Participants performed a visual version of the Implicit Association Test (evaluating implicit attitudes towards alcohol), followed by self-reported measures of explicit alcohol-related attitudes and expectancies.

Results: HBD and DD (but not LBD) presented stronger implicit positive attitudes towards alcohol than CP. All drinkers explicitly considered alcohol consumption as pleasant, but only DD qualified it as something good.

Conclusion: Beyond and above the quantity consumed and the presence of binge drinking habits, consumption frequency appears as a central factor associated with high implicit/explicit positive attitudes towards alcohol in young drinkers. This underlines the need to consider this factor not only in future studies exploring implicit/explicit attitudes but also in the development of prevention and intervention campaigns in youth.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00213-021-05804-zDOI Listing
March 2021

What is binge drinking? Insights from a network perspective.

Addict Behav 2021 Jun 29;117:106848. Epub 2021 Jan 29.

Institute of Psychology, University of Lausanne, Quartier UNIL-Mouline Bâtiment Géopolis, CH-1015 Lausanne, Switzerland.

This study aimed to delineate the specific characteristics of binge drinking habits by capitalizing on data-driven network analysis. Such an approach allowed us to consider binge drinking as a network system of interacting elements, thus identifying the key variables involved in this phenomenon. A total of 1,455 university students with excessive drinking habits were included in this study. We assessed the most critical features of binge drinking (i.e., the consumption of more than six alcohol units per occasion, drunkenness frequency, consumption speed), together with alcohol use and more general alcohol-related components of dysfunction and harm. All variables were considered in the network analysis. Centrality analysis identified drunkenness frequency as the most influential variable in the entire network. Community detection analysis showed three distinct subnetworks related to alcohol use, drunkenness, and dysfunction/harm components. Drunkenness frequency and blackout occurrence emerged as core bridge items in the binge drinking network. Drunkenness is recognized as the hallmark feature of binge drinking.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2021.106848DOI Listing
June 2021

Emotional processes in binge drinking: A systematic review and perspective.

Clin Psychol Rev 2021 Jan 13;84:101971. Epub 2021 Jan 13.

Louvain Experimental Psychopathology research group (LEP), Psychological Sciences Research Institute, UCLouvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium. Electronic address:

Binge drinking is a widespread alcohol consumption pattern commonly engaged by youth. Here, we present the first systematic review of emotional processes in relation to binge drinking. Capitalizing on a theoretical model describing three emotional processing steps (emotional appraisal/identification, emotional response, emotional regulation) and following PRISMA guidelines, we considered all identified human studies exploring emotional abilities among binge drinkers. A literature search was conducted in PubMed, Scopus, and PsychINFO, and a standardized methodological quality assessment was performed for each study. The main findings offered by the 43 studies included are: 1) regarding emotional appraisal/identification, binge drinking is related to heightened negative emotional states, including greater severity of depressive and anxiety symptoms, and have difficulties in recognizing emotional cues expressed by others; 2) regarding emotional response, binge drinkers exhibit diminished emotional response compared with non-binge drinkers; 3) regarding emotional regulation, no experimental data currently support impaired emotion regulation in binge drinking. Variability in the identification and measurement of binge drinking habits across studies limits conclusions. Nevertheless, current findings establish the relevance of emotional processes in binge drinking and set the stage for new research perspectives to identify the nature and extent of emotional impairments in the onset and maintenance of excessive alcohol use.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2021.101971DOI Listing
January 2021

Prior drinking motives predict alcohol consumption during the COVID-19 lockdown: A cross-sectional online survey among Belgian college students.

Addict Behav 2021 04 9;115:106772. Epub 2020 Dec 9.

Louvain Experimental Psychopathology Research Group (LEP), Psychological Sciences Research Institute, UCLouvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium. Electronic address:

The global outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and the resulting lockdown measures have raised concerns regarding their effect on alcohol consumption. We investigated alcohol use during lockdown in a population of college students, usually characterized by social and heavy drinking. We also tested the predictive role of pre-lockdown drinking motives on alcohol consumption during lockdown. We collected data from 1951 French-speaking Belgian students during the lockdown period (April 1st - May 3rd, 2020) through a cross-sectional online survey. Participants self-reported their daily alcohol consumption (1) during a typical week in normal circumstances (i.e., before lockdown), and (2) since lockdown onset. We also assessed drinking motives and severity of alcohol use before lockdown. Our findings showed that 68.2% of the sample reported a lower alcohol consumption during lockdown compared to before lockdown, 17.2% conversely reporting a higher consumption. Enhancement, social and coping motives were all associated with heavy drinking before lockdown. Enhancement and social motives predicted lower alcohol consumption during lockdown among heavy drinkers. Conversely, coping motives, as well as social motives among low drinkers, predicted higher consumption during lockdown. Conformity motives, as well as enhancement motives among low and moderate drinkers, did not predict alcohol consumption before or during lockdown. Overall, several pre-lockdown drinking motives reliably predicted alcohol consumption during lockdown and could thus be used to identify at-risk populations and to tailor intervention programs on alcohol misuse during sanitary crises.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2020.106772DOI Listing
April 2021

Performance of self-reported measures of alcohol use and of harmful drinking patterns against ethyl glucuronide hair testing among young Swiss men.

PLoS One 2020 23;15(12):e0244336. Epub 2020 Dec 23.

Division of Prison Health, Geneva University Hospitals and University of Geneva, Thônex, Geneva, Switzerland.

Background: There is a need for empirical studies assessing the psychometric properties of self-reported alcohol use as measures of excessive chronic drinking (ECD) compared to those of objective measures, such as ethyl glucuronide (EtG).

Objectives: To test the quality of self-reported measures of alcohol use and of risky single-occasion drinking (RSOD) to detect ECD assessed by EtG.

Methods: A total of 227 samples of hair from young Swiss men were used for the determination of EtG. Self-reported measures of alcohol use (previous twelve-month and previous-week alcohol use) and RSOD were assessed. Using EtG (<30 pg/mg) as the gold standard of ECD assessment, the sensitivity and specificity were computed, and the AUROC were compared for alcohol use measures and RSOD. Logistic regressions were used to test the contribution of RSOD to the understanding of ECD after controlling for alcohol use.

Results: A total of 23.3% of participants presented with ECD. Previous twelve-month alcohol use with a cut-off of >15 drinks per week (sensitivity = 75.5%, specificity = 78.7%) and weekly RSOD (sensitivity = 75.5%, specificity = 70.1%) yielded acceptable psychometric properties. No cut-off for previous-week alcohol use gave acceptable results. In the multivariate logistic regression, after controlling for the previous twelve months of alcohol use, RSOD was still significantly associated with EtG (p = .016).

Conclusion: Self-reported measures of the previous twelve months of alcohol use and RSOD were acceptable measures of ECD for population-based screening. Self-reported RSOD appeared to be an interesting screening measure, in addition to the previous twelve months of alcohol use, to understand ECD among young people.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0244336PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7757898PMC
March 2021

A biological framework for emotional dysregulation in alcohol misuse: from gut to brain.

Mol Psychiatry 2021 04 7;26(4):1098-1118. Epub 2020 Dec 7.

APC Microbiome Ireland, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland.

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) has been associated with impairments in social and emotional cognition that play a crucial role in the development and maintenance of addiction. Repeated alcohol intoxications trigger inflammatory processes and sensitise the immune system. In addition, emerging data point to perturbations in the gut microbiome as a key regulator of the inflammatory cascade in AUD. Inflammation and social cognition are potent modulators of one another. At the same time, accumulating evidence implicates the gut microbiome in shaping emotional and social cognition, suggesting the possibility of a common underlying loop of crucial importance for addiction. Here we propose an integrative microbiome neuro-immuno-affective framework of how emotional dysregulation and alcohol-related microbiome dysbiosis could accelerate the cycle of addiction. We outline the overlapping effects of chronic alcohol use, inflammation and microbiome alterations on the fronto-limbic circuitry as a convergence hub for emotional dysregulation. We discuss the interdependent relationship of social cognition, immunity and the microbiome in relation to alcohol misuse- from binge drinking to addiction. In addition, we emphasise adolescence as a sensitive period for the confluence of alcohol harmful effects and emotional dysregulation in the developing gut-brain axis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41380-020-00970-6DOI Listing
April 2021

Tackling heterogeneity: Individual variability of emotion decoding deficits in severe alcohol use disorder.

J Affect Disord 2021 01 15;279:299-307. Epub 2020 Oct 15.

Centre de Neurosciences Cognitives, UMR 5229, CNRS, Bron, France; Service Universitaire de Réhabilitation, SUR-CL3R, Centre Hospitalier Le Vinatier, Lyon, France.

Background: Severe alcohol use disorder (SAUD) is associated with social cognition deficits. Patients with SAUD are impaired for the recognition of emotional facial expressions, particularly at early stages of abstinence. These deficits damage interpersonal relations and increase relapse risk. However, uncertainties still abound on their variation across emotions and on the heterogeneity of emotional impairments across patients. We addressed these questions by exploring how the deficit varies according to emotions' type/intensity and patients' heterogeneity.

Methods: Sixty-five recently detoxified patients with SAUD and 65 matched healthy controls performed the Facial Emotion Recognition Test, assessing the ability to identify six emotions (anger, contempt, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness) displayed by morphed faces with various intensities. Accuracy scores and detection thresholds were collected for each emotion. Beyond group comparisons, multiple single-case analyses determined the percentage of patients presenting decoding deficits for each emotion.

Results: When current depression and anxiety symptoms were controlled for, patients did not present a general emotion decoding deficit, but were rather characterized by specific deficits for disgust/contempt in accuracy, and for disgust in detection threshold scores. Single-case analyses showed that only a third of patients presented a clinically significant emotional deficit.

Conclusions: Patients with SAUD only present emotional decoding deficits for specific interpersonal emotions (disgust/contempt) when subclinical psychopathological states are controlled for, and show no general emotional impairment. This goes against the proposal of a generalized social cognition deficit in this population. This group effect moreover masks a massive heterogeneity across patients, which has implications at experimental and clinical levels.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2020.10.022DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7738413PMC
January 2021

Neural Responses to the Implicit Processing of Emotional Facial Expressions in Binge Drinking.

Alcohol Alcohol 2021 Feb;56(2):166-174

Cognition Health and Society Laboratory (EA 6291), Université de Reims Champagne-Ardenne, 57 rue Pierre Taittinger, 51571 Reims, France.

Aims: Emotional processing is a crucial ability in human and impairments in the processing of emotions are considered as transdiagnostic processes in psychopathology. In alcohol use disorder, numerous studies have investigated emotional processing and showed emotional deficits related to the perpetuation of alcohol use. Recent studies have also explored this topic in binge drinking, but few studies are available. In this paper, we explored whether emotional difficulties in binge drinking may be extended to implicit emotion processing.

Methods: We compared 39 binge drinkers (BD) and 40 non-binge drinkers who performed a gender categorization task while faces represented emotional expressions of anger, fear, happiness and sadness. Emotional brain responses were assessed thanks to functional magnetic resonance imaging. Emotional versus non-emotional conditions were first contrasted in the whole sample and groups were then compared.

Results: Emotional condition led to differential activations than non-emotional condition, supporting the validity of the paradigm. Regarding group comparisons, BD exhibited higher activations in the left posterior cerebellum (anger processing) and the right anterior cingulate (fear processing) as well as lower activations in the left insula (happiness), the right post-central gyrus, the right cingulate gyrus and the right medial frontal gyrus (sadness processing).

Conclusions: Beyond emotional identification, BD presented differential brain responses following the implicit processing of emotions. Emotional difficulties in binge drinking might be related to a more automatic/unconscious processing of emotions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/alcalc/agaa093DOI Listing
February 2021

Understanding Attentional Biases in Severe Alcohol Use Disorder: A Combined Behavioral and Eye-Tracking Perspective.

Alcohol Alcohol 2021 Jan;56(1):1-7

Louvain Experimental Psychopathology Research Group (LEP), Psychological Science Research Institute, UCLouvain, 1348, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium.

Rationale: Severe alcohol use disorder (SAUD) is a psychiatric condition linked to cerebral and cognitive consequences. SAUD is notably characterized by an overactivation of the reflexive/reward system when confronted with alcohol-related cues. Such overreactivity generates a preferential allocation of attentional resources toward these cues, labeled as attentional biases (AB). Theoretical assumptions have been made regarding the characteristics of AB and their underlying processes. While often considered as granted, these assumptions remain to be experimentally validated.

Aims: We first identify the theoretical assumptions made by previous studies exploring the nature and role of AB. We then discuss the current evidence available to establish their validity. We finally propose research avenues to experimentally test them.

Methods: Capitalizing on a narrative review of studies exploring AB in SAUD, the current limits of the behavioral measures used for their evaluation are highlighted as well as the benefits derived from the use of eye-tracking measures to obtain a deeper understanding of their underlying processes. We describe the issues related to the theoretical proposals on AB and propose research avenues to test them. Four experimental axes are proposed, respectively, related to the determination of (a) the genuine nature of the mechanisms underlying AB; (b) their stability over the disease course; (c) their specificity to alcohol-related stimuli and (d) their reflexive or controlled nature.

Conclusions: This in-depth exploration of the available knowledge related to AB in SAUD, and of its key limitations, highlights the theoretical and clinical interest of our innovative experimental perspectives capitalizing on eye-tracking measures.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/alcalc/agaa062DOI Listing
January 2021

What We Talk About When We Talk About Binge Drinking: Towards an Integrated Conceptualization and Evaluation.

Alcohol Alcohol 2020 Aug;55(5):468-479

INSERM UMR 1247, Research Group on Alcohol and Pharmacodependences, GRAP, University of Picardie Jules Verne, Amiens 80025, France.

Rationale: Binge drinking (BD), characterized by recurring alternations between intense intoxication episodes and abstinence periods, is the most frequent alcohol consumption pattern in youth and is growing in prevalence among older adults. Many studies have underlined the specific harmful impact of this habit by showing impaired abilities in a wide range of cognitive functions among binge drinkers, as well as modifications of brain structure and function.

Aims: Several controversies and inconsistencies currently hamper the harmonious development of the field and the recognition of BD as a specific alcohol consumption pattern. The main concern is the absence of consensual BD conceptualization, leading to variability in experimental group selection and alcohol consumption evaluation. The present paper aims at overcoming this key issue through a two-step approach.

Methods And Conclusions: First, a literature review allows proposing an integrated BD conceptualization, distinguishing it from other subclinical alcohol consumption patterns. Six specific characteristics of BD are identified, namely, (1) the presence of physiological symptoms related to BD episodes, (2) the presence of psychological symptoms related to BD episodes, (3) the ratio of BD episodes compared to all alcohol drinking occasions, (4) the frequency of BD episodes, (5) the consumption speed and (6) the alternation between BD episodes and soberness periods. Second, capitalizing on this conceptual clarification, we propose an evaluation protocol jointly measuring these six BD characteristics. Finally, several research perspectives are presented to refine the proposed conceptualization.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/alcalc/agaa041DOI Listing
August 2020

Distinct psychological profiles among college students with substance use: A cluster analytic approach.

Addict Behav 2020 10 21;109:106477. Epub 2020 May 21.

Université de Caen-Normandie, UNICAEN, LPCN, Esplanade de la Paix, 14000 Caen, France. Electronic address:

Substance use in youth is a central public health concern, related to deleterious consequences at psychological, social, and cognitive/cerebral levels. Previous research has identified impulsivity and consumption motives as key factors in the emergence of excessive substance use among college students. However, most studies have focused on a specific substance and have considered this population as a unitary group, ignoring the potential heterogeneity in psychological profiles. We used a cluster analytic approach to explore the heterogeneity in a large sample (N = 2741) of substance users (i.e., tobacco, alcohol, cannabis, ecstasy, cocaine, heroin) on impulsivity and consumption motives. We identified four clusters: The first two clusters, associated with good self-esteem, low anxiety, and moderate substance use, were respectively characterized by low impulsivity and consumption motives (Cluster 1) and by high social and enhancement motives without marked impulsivity (Cluster 2). The two other clusters were conversely related to low self-esteem and high anxiety, and characterized by high consumption motives (particularly conformity) together with elevated urgency (Cluster 3) and by globally increased impulsivity and consumption motives (Cluster 4). These two clusters were also associated with higher substance use. These results highlight the existence of distinct psychological profiles of substance users and underline the need to develop targeted prevention and intervention programs (e.g., focusing on the specific impulsivity facets and consumption motives presented by each subgroup). Based on these findings, we also suggest extending the exploration of distinct profiles of substance users by targeting other psychological variables (e.g., self-esteem).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2020.106477DOI Listing
October 2020

Can we boost attention and inhibition in binge drinking? Electrophysiological impact of neurocognitive stimulation.

Psychopharmacology (Berl) 2020 May 8;237(5):1493-1505. Epub 2020 Feb 8.

Louvain Experimental Psychopathology research group (LEP), Psychological Science Research Institute, Université catholique de Louvain, Place Cardinal Mercier, 10, 1348, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium.

Rationale: Binge drinking (i.e. excessive episodic alcohol consumption) among young adults has been associated with deleterious consequences, notably at the cognitive and brain levels. These behavioural impairments and brain alterations have a direct impact on psychological and interpersonal functioning, but they might also be involved in the transition towards severe alcohol use disorders. Development of effective rehabilitation programs to reduce these negative effects as they emerge thus constitutes a priority in subclinical populations.

Objectives: The present study tested the behavioural and electrophysiological impact of neurocognitive stimulation (i.e. transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) applied during a cognitive task) to improve attention and inhibition abilities in young binge drinkers.

Methods: Two groups (20 binge drinkers and 20 non-binge drinkers) performed two sessions in a counterbalanced order. Each session consisted of an inhibition task (i.e. Neutral Go/No-Go) while participants received left frontal tDCS or sham stimulation, immediately followed by an Alcohol-related Go/No-Go task, while both behavioural and electrophysiological measures were recorded.

Results: No significant differences were observed between groups or sessions (tDCS versus sham stimulation) at the behavioural level. However, electrophysiological measurements during the alcohol-related inhibition task revealed a specific effect of tDCS on attentional resource mobilization (indexed by the N2 component) in binge drinkers, whereas later inhibition processes (indexed by the P3 component) remained unchanged in this population.

Conclusions: The present findings indicate that tDCS can modify the electrophysiological correlates of cognitive processes in binge drinking. While the impact of such brain modifications on actual neuropsychological functioning and alcohol consumption behaviours remains to be determined, these results underline the potential interest of developing neurocognitive stimulation approaches in this population.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00213-020-05475-2DOI Listing
May 2020

Disentangling the role of social cognition processes at early steps of alcohol abuse: The influence of affective theory of mind.

Addict Behav 2020 03 23;102:106187. Epub 2019 Oct 23.

Cognition Health and Society Laboratory (EA 6291), Université de Reims Champagne-Ardenne, 57 rue Pierre Taittinger, 51571 Reims, France; Pôle Universitaire de Psychiatrie, EPSM Marne, 8 Rue Roger Aubry, Reims, France; INSERM U1247 GRAP, Research Group on Alcohol and Drugs, Université de Picardie Jules Verne, Chemin du Thil, Amiens, France. Electronic address:

Excessive alcohol use among adolescents has become a pressing challenge among Western societies. Accordingly, one of the current research objectives is to identify the processes associated with this harmful habit. Although numerous studies have underlined the role of executive and motivational processes, few have explored emotional and interpersonal abilities at early steps of alcohol abuse. The present study evaluated the role of two social cognition processes, namely theory of mind (ability to infer others' mental states at cognitive and affective levels) and empathy (ability to understand others' feelings at cognitive and affective levels) in adolescents' alcohol consumption. Two hundred and two adolescents (13-20 years old) performed a behavioral task evaluating theory of mind and filled in questionnaires measuring personal data, empathy, alcohol consumption (alcohol abuse and specific binge drinking), as well as depressive and anxiety symptoms. Findings showed that cognitive and affective empathy were negatively associated with alcohol consumption in youth whereas affective theory of mind was related to specific binge drinking. Importantly, affective theory of mind predicted binge drinking in adolescents, even after controlling for age, gender, and education level. These results emphasized the role of social cognition in early alcohol abuse and showed that, beyond inhibition, interpersonal abilities might precipitate excessive drinking in youth.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2019.106187DOI Listing
March 2020

Disentangling the Relationship Between Self-Esteem and Problematic Alcohol Use Among College Students: Evidence From a Cluster Analytic Approach.

Alcohol Alcohol 2020 Mar;55(2):196-203

Laboratoire CRP-CPO (EA7273), Université de Picardie Jules Verne, Chemin du Thil, 80025 Amiens Cedex 1, France.

Aims: Investigation of the relationship between self-esteem and alcohol use among college students has yielded discrepant results. We hypothesized that these discrepancies could originate from a potential heterogeneity of self-esteem patterns among young adult with an alcohol use disorder (AUD).

Methods: A community sample of 343 college students was recruited and categorized with or without AUD using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test cut-offs. College students were compared on the dimensions of the Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory (CSEI) as well as mood, impulsiveness, alcohol- and other substance-related measures, including drinking motives.

Results: A cluster analysis conducted among college students with AUD highlighted two subgroups characterized by contrasting patterns on the CSEI: one group with a high level of self-esteem and low levels of anxiety and depression symptoms and one group with a low level of self-esteem and high levels of impulsiveness, mood symptoms and drinking to cope motives.

Conclusion: Findings caution against assuming that AUD is associated with low self-esteem, as reported in previous studies. These results rather emphasize a heterogeneity of self-esteem in college students, showing that high self-esteem was also related to AUD. Implications of these results are major for prevention purposes and clinical practice.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/alcalc/agz097DOI Listing
March 2020

Corrigendum to "Binging at the campus: motivations and impulsivity influence binge drinking profiles in university students" [Psychiatry Research (2017) 146-154].

Psychiatry Res 2019 Dec 25;282:112678. Epub 2019 Nov 25.

Laboratory for Experimental Psychopathology, Psychological Science Research Institute, Université catholique de Louvain, Place C. Mercier, 10, B-1348 Louvain-la-Neuve, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium. Electronic address:

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2019.112678DOI Listing
December 2019

Disrupted Fear and Sadness Recognition in Binge Drinking: A Combined Group and Individual Analysis.

Alcohol Clin Exp Res 2019 09 8;43(9):1978-1985. Epub 2019 Aug 8.

Cognition Health and Society Laboratory (EA 6291), Université de Reims Champagne-Ardenne, Reims, France.

Background: Binge drinking is a harmful pattern of alcohol consumption, associated with cognitive and cerebral impairments. Indeed, various cognitive processes have been identified as disrupted in binge drinking, ranging from perceptive to executive functions, but emotional processes have conversely been little investigated. Particularly, it is unclear to what extent binge drinkers (BD) present difficulties to recognize and categorize the emotions expressed by other individuals. Such an exploration would, however, offer a more comprehensive view of the deficits associated with alcohol-related disorders and potentially involved in the maintenance of this harmful habit.

Methods: Fifty-two BD and 42 control participants performed an emotional task assessing the ability to recognize 6 basic emotions (i.e., anger, contempt, disgust, fear, happiness, and sadness). Accuracy score and detection threshold were collected for each emotion. To explore the extent of emotion recognition difficulties, 2 analyses were conducted: (i) classical repeated measures analyses of variance, to compare groups' performance, and (ii) multiple single-case analyses (i.e., Crawford's t-tests), to determine the percentage of BD presenting genuine emotion recognition deficits. Correlations were also performed between alcohol consumption characteristics and emotional recognition scores.

Results: BD presented reduced performance for the recognition of fear and sadness. Multiple single cases highlighted that these deficits respectively concerned 21.15 and 15.38% of the binge drinking sample, and the relation between binge drinking and reduced sadness detection was supported by correlational analyses.

Conclusions: These findings show that binge drinking is associated with a disrupted processing of emotional stimuli. By identifying heterogeneity in the impairments presented by BD, the present results also underline the usefulness of a combined group and individual Analysis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/acer.14151DOI Listing
September 2019

Behavioral and Cerebral Impairments Associated with Binge Drinking in Youth: A Critical Review.

Psychol Belg 2019 Mar 29;59(1):116-155. Epub 2019 Mar 29.

Laboratory for Experimental Psychopathology (LEP), Psychological Science Research Institute, Université catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, BE.

Binge drinking is a widespread alcohol consumption pattern in youth that is linked to important behavioral and cerebral impairments, in both the short and the long term. From a critical review of the current literature on this topic, we conclude that binge drinkers display executive impairments, cerebral modifications, and problems with emotion-related processes. Five key empirical and theoretical topics are discussed to pave the way for future research in the field: (1) the specificity of the brain modifications observed in binge drinkers that may index a compensatory mechanism or result from multiple withdrawals; (2) the nature of the relationship between binge drinking and impairments, suggesting reciprocal influences between excessive alcohol consumption and executive deficits; (3) the possible recovery of brain and cognitive functioning after the cessation of binge drinking; (4) the validity of the continuum hypothesis, suggesting links between binge drinking and severe alcohol use disorders; and (5) the existing strategies to reduce binge drinking habits or rehabilitate the associated cognitive deficits. Future perspectives are described in relation to the questions raised to identify the crucial variables to be addressed in research and clinical practice.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.5334/pb.476DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6625552PMC
March 2019

Impact of Exchange Stay on Alcohol Consumption: Longitudinal Exploration in a Large Sample of European Students.

Alcohol Clin Exp Res 2019 06 29;43(6):1220-1224. Epub 2019 Apr 29.

Institut de Recherche en Sciences Psychologiques, Université catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium.

Background: Each year, more than 300,000 university students take part in European exchange programs. Besides their positive educational and cultural impacts, these programs are also reputed to immerse students in a high-risk festive context where excessive alcohol consumption is strongly present. There is thus a crucial need to evaluate the actual impact of those exchange stays on alcohol consumption.

Methods: Study abroad (n = 3,950) and local (n = 3,950) European students completed a 2-part longitudinal survey and reported their alcohol consumption before (T1) and during (T2) their exchange stay (or at the beginning of the academic year and 6 months later for local students, constituting the control group).

Results: During their exchange stay, individuals studying abroad showed more excessive and harmful alcohol consumption behaviors than local students, as measured by increased general alcohol consumption and binge drinking (BD) scores at T2. In particular, study abroad students under 20 years of age and performing their exchange stay in eastern Europe were the most exposed to excessive alcohol consumption and BD.

Conclusions: These results constitute the first large-scale longitudinal confirmation that exchange stays indeed constitute risky contexts in which students significantly increase their consumption and present stronger alcohol-related problems. In view of the rapid and deleterious effects of alcohol consumption in young people, it is essential to promote prevention campaigns targeting this population to limit public health consequences and possible evolution toward severe alcohol use disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/acer.14028DOI Listing
June 2019

Is there room for attentional impairments in binge drinking? A commentary on Carbia et al. (2018).

Neurosci Biobehav Rev 2019 03 7;98:58-60. Epub 2019 Jan 7.

Laboratory for Experimental Psychopathology (LEP), Psychological Science Research Institute, Université catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium. Electronic address:

Binge drinking is an excessive pattern of alcohol use, highly prevalent in adolescents and young adults. Several studies have explored the cognitive impairments associated with binge drinking, and Carbia et al. (2018) recently proposed a systematic review of these impairments. Although this review offers an insightful and up-to-date synthesis of this research field, the authors concluded that binge drinking is not associated with attentional impairments. We argue that such conclusion is premature. We identified published studies not mentioned by Carbia et al. (2018), which documented attentional impairments in binge drinking. In particular, a differential exploration of attentional networks has suggested that binge drinkers not only exhibit impairments for the executive control of attention, but also for its alerting network. We thus recommend a better consideration of attention in future experimental and translational research agendas.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2019.01.006DOI Listing
March 2019

Enhancement motivation to drink predicts binge drinking in adolescence: a longitudinal study in a community sample.

Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse 2019 2;45(3):304-312. Epub 2019 Jan 2.

a Laboratory for Experimental Psychopathology, Psychological Science Research Institute , Université catholique de Louvain , Louvain-la-Neuve , Belgium.

Background: Binge drinking, characterized by alternations between intense alcohol intakes and abstinence periods, is the most frequent alcohol-consumption pattern among adolescents and is associated with cognitive impairments.

Objectives: It appears crucial to disentangle the psychological factors involved in the emergence of binge drinking in adolescence, and centrally the role played by drinking motives, which are related to binge drinking.

Methods: This longitudinal study explored the role of drinking motives (i.e., social order, conformity, enhancement, coping) in the emergence of binge drinking among 144 adolescents (56.3% girls) from the community, who were assessed for alcohol consumption and drinking motives at two times (T1/T2), with a 1-year interval. After data checking, 101 adolescents (12-15 years old; 56.4% girls) constituted the final sample.

Results: Strong relationships were found between drinking motives and binge drinking. Regression analyses were computed to determine how drinking motives at T1 predicted binge drinking at T2, while controlling for global alcohol use. The statistical model explained 60% of the binge-drinking variance. In particular, enhancement motivation (i.e., the search for the enjoyable sensations felt when drinking) constituted the unique predictor of future binge drinking. Conversely, social motives did not predict binge drinking.

Conclusion: These findings highlight the central role of enhancement motivation (e.g., focusing on the positive expectancies towards alcohol) in youths' alcohol consumption and call for the development of preventive interventions. The previously reported relationship between social motives and college drinking does not seem to play a key role in the early steps of binge drinking.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00952990.2018.1550089DOI Listing
May 2020

Positive Attitude Toward Alcohol Predicts Actual Consumption in Young Adults: An Ecological Implicit Association Test.

J Stud Alcohol Drugs 2018 09;79(5):733-740

Univ. Lille, CNRS, UMR 9193 - SCALab - Sciences Cognitives et Sciences Affectives, Lille, France.

Objective: Excessive alcohol drinking, particularly among college students, is a major health concern worldwide. The implicit associations between alcohol-related concepts and affective attributes have been repeatedly postulated as a reliable predictor of these drinking behaviors. The Implicit Association Test (IAT) is considered one of the most reliable tasks for measuring these associations and their impact on actual alcohol consumption. However, the majority of these tests used verbal materials as stimuli, thus being unadapted to some categories of participants. The present study aims to develop a new IAT, using pictures exclusively as stimuli, to provide a cross-cultural and language-independent evaluation of implicit associations that is more closely related to real-life drinking contexts.

Method: Sixty-five undergraduate young adults took part in this study. A new visual IAT was used to measure the implicit association between alcohol cues and alcohol-related positive attributes. Pictorial stimuli, previously validated, were used to represent both target (alcohol vs. soft drinks) and attribute (positive vs. neutral affective states) categories in seven successive experimental blocks. The IAT was followed by self-reported measures of explicit alcohol-related expectancies and alcohol consumption.

Results: The new IAT highlighted significant implicit associations between positively valenced and alcohol-related representations conveyed by pictures, with good internal consistency, thus proving its validity and reliability. Importantly, regression analyses showed that these implicit associations are a strong predictor of self-reported alcohol consumption.

Conclusions: This visual IAT further underscores that positive implicit associations with alcohol constitute an important factor in predicting effective alcohol-related behaviors and offers a more ecological and cross-cultural way to test these associations in non-alcohol-dependent populations. Moreover, this version of the IAT might be implemented in prevention and prophylactic programs.
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September 2018

A dual-process exploration of binge drinking: Evidence through behavioral and electrophysiological findings.

Addict Biol 2020 03 29;25(2):e12685. Epub 2018 Oct 29.

Laboratory for Experimental Psychopathology (LEP), Psychological Science Research Institute, Université catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium.

The dual-process model, describing addictive disorders as resulting from an imbalance between increased automatic approach behaviors towards the substance and reduced abilities to control these behaviors, constitutes a sound theoretical framework to understand alcohol-use disorders. The present study aimed at exploring this imbalance at behavioral and cerebral levels in binge drinking, a pattern of excessive alcohol consumption frequently observed in youth, by assessing both reflective control abilities and automatic processing of alcohol-related stimuli. For this purpose, 25 binge drinkers and 25 comparison participants performed a Go/No-Go task during electrophysiological recording. Inhibition abilities were investigated during explicit (ie, distinguishing alcoholic versus nonalcoholic drinks) and implicit (ie, distinguishing sparkling versus nonsparkling drinks, independently of their alcohol content) processing of beverage cues. Binge drinkers presented poorer inhibition for the explicit processing of beverage cues, as well as reduced N200 amplitude for the specific processing of alcohol-related stimuli. As a whole, these findings indicated inhibition impairments in binge drinkers, particularly for alcohol cues processing and at the attentional stage of the cognitive stream. In line with the dual-process model, these results support that binge drinking is already characterized by an underactivation of the reflective system combined with an overactivation of the automatic system. Results also underlined the influence of explicit processing compared with implicit ones. At the clinical level, our findings reinforce the need to develop intervention methods focusing on the inhibition of approach behaviors towards alcohol-related stimuli.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/adb.12685DOI Listing
March 2020

Binge drinking is associated with reduced quality of life in young students: A pan-European study.

Drug Alcohol Depend 2018 12 9;193:48-54. Epub 2018 Oct 9.

Laboratory for Experimental Psychopathology, Psychological Science Research Institute, Université catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium. Electronic address:

Background: Binge drinking (BD) is frequently observed in youth, with psychological and cognitive consequences, but its link with quality of life has been scarcely explored.

Methods: Sociodemographic and alcohol consumption characteristics were collected in a cross-sectional survey including 15,020 European students. Health-related quality of life was assessed using the Alcohol Quality of Life Scale (AQoLS) measuring the self-reported negative impact of alcohol consumption. A flexible link function, using Bayesian P-splines, was used to study the relationship between alcohol-related quality of life and alcohol consumption.

Results: A non-linear relationship between BD and AQoLS scores was identified, showing that: (1) For students presenting moderate BD pattern, alcohol consumption is related to a robust reduction in quality of life, this link remaining stable for students with more intense BD patterns; (2) BD are not strongly associated with social, personal, and work activities, but are linked to an increase in perceived loss of control over consumption; (3) Harmful or hazardous consumption is also related with a massive decrease in quality of life; (4) The strongest relationship between BD and impacted quality of life is found among males and Eastern European students.

Conclusions: These results demonstrate the importance of measuring the perceived relation between alcohol and quality of life, beyond the classically assessed consequences, as this relation is strong among young students. Prevention programs should take this into account, notably regarding the perceived loss of control over alcohol consumption, which constitutes a key factor for the emergence of severe alcohol-use disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2018.08.033DOI Listing
December 2018

Clinical Usefulness of the Iowa Gambling Task in Severe Alcohol Use Disorders: Link with Relapse and Cognitive-Physiological Deficits.

Alcohol Clin Exp Res 2018 11 7;42(11):2266-2273. Epub 2018 Sep 7.

Service d'Addictologie , Hôpitaux Universitaires Henri-Mondor, Assistance Publique Hôpitaux de Paris (APHP), Créteil, France.

Background: Decision-making impairments have been repeatedly evaluated in severe alcohol use disorders (SAUD) using the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT). The IGT, capitalizing on strong theoretical background and ecological significance, allowed identifying large-scale deficits in this population and is now a standard decision-making assessment in therapeutic settings. However, the clinical usefulness of the IGT, particularly regarding its ability to predict relapse and its link with key cognitive-physiological deficits, remains to be clarified.

Methods: Thirty-eight recently detoxified patients with SAUD and 38 matched healthy controls performed the IGT, a neuropsychological task using monetary rewards to assess decision making under uncertainty and under risk. Disease characteristics (e.g., duration and intensity), cognitive abilities, psychopathological comorbidities, and physiological damage were also measured, as well as relapse rates 6 months later.

Results: Compared to controls, patients with SAUD presented a dissociation between preserved decision making under uncertainty and impaired decision making under risk. In the SAUD group, while relapsers (55% of the sample) presented lower global cognitive functioning and stronger liver damage than nonrelapsers at detoxification time, no difference was found between these subgroups for the IGT. IGT results were not related to alcohol-consumption characteristics or cognitive-physiological deficits.

Conclusions: SAUD is not related to a global IGT deficit, as suggested earlier, but rather to a specific impairment for decision making under risk. This deficit is not associated with other disease-related variables and has no relapse prediction power. These results question the clinical usefulness of the IGT as a tool identifying key treatment levers and guiding (neuro)psychological rehabilitation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/acer.13873DOI Listing
November 2018

Electrophysiological correlates of emotional crossmodal processing in binge drinking.

Cogn Affect Behav Neurosci 2018 12;18(6):1076-1088

Laboratory for Experimental Psychopathology, Psychological Science Research Institute, Université Catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium.

Emotional crossmodal integration (i.e., multisensorial decoding of emotions) is a crucial process that ensures adaptive social behaviors and responses to the environment. Recent evidence suggests that in binge drinking-an excessive alcohol consumption pattern associated with psychological and cerebral deficits-crossmodal integration is preserved at the behavioral level. Although some studies have suggested brain modifications during affective processing in binge drinking, nothing is known about the cerebral correlates of crossmodal integration. In the current study, we asked 53 university students (17 binge drinkers, 17 moderate drinkers, 19 nondrinkers) to perform an emotional crossmodal task while their behavioral and neurophysiological responses were recorded. Participants had to identify happiness and anger in three conditions (unimodal, crossmodal congruent, crossmodal incongruent) and two modalities (face and/or voice). Binge drinkers did not significantly differ from moderate drinkers and nondrinkers at the behavioral level. However, widespread cerebral modifications were found at perceptual (N100) and mainly at decisional (P3b) stages in binge drinkers, indexed by slower brain processing and stronger activity. These cerebral modifications were mostly related to anger processing and crossmodal integration. This study highlights higher electrophysiological activity in the absence of behavioral deficits, which could index a potential compensation process in binge drinkers. In line with results found in severe alcohol-use disorders, these electrophysiological findings show modified anger processing, which might have a deleterious impact on social functioning. Moreover, this study suggests impaired crossmodal integration at early stages of alcohol-related disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3758/s13415-018-0623-3DOI Listing
December 2018

Executive Impairments in Binge Drinking: Evidence for a Specific Performance-Monitoring Difficulty during Alcohol-Related Processing.

Eur Addict Res 2018 3;24(3):118-127. Epub 2018 Jul 3.

Laboratory for Experimental Psychopathology (LEP), Psychological Science Research Institute, Université catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium.

This study evaluated inhibition and performance-monitoring abilities through the explicit processing of alcohol cues. Twenty-two binge drinkers (BD) and 22 control participants performed a speeded Go/No-Go task using pictures of alcohol and soft cans as Go and No-Go targets. This task measures inhibitory control and performance monitoring (i.e., task adjustment through errors and feedback processing) during the explicit processing of alcohol cues. Groups did not significantly differ regarding inhibition abilities. However, BD had poorer performance-monitoring abilities, reflected by a difficulty to adjust after errors, especially when these errors were related to alcohol cues. These findings suggest that the explicit processing of alcohol cues negatively impacts cognitive abilities among BD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000490492DOI Listing
October 2018

Affective impairments in binge drinking: Investigation through emotional facial expression decoding.

Compr Psychiatry 2018 05 16;83:59-63. Epub 2018 Mar 16.

Laboratory for Experimental Psychopathology (LEP), Psychological Science Research Institute, Université Catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium. Electronic address:

Objective: Binge drinking, an excessive alcohol consumption pattern frequently observed in young people, is known to be associated with psychological and cerebral deficits. While cognitive dysfunctions have been widely investigated, emotional abilities have scarcely been explored. Such an exploration would however offer a more exhaustive understanding of the deficits associated with binge drinking, as well as of the possible transition towards alcohol-dependence.

Methods: 46 young adults (23 binge drinkers, 12 women; 23 control participants, 12 women) were recruited among university students. They performed an emotional recognition task consisting of the visual decoding of six basic emotions (i.e. anger, contempt, disgust, fear, happiness, and sadness). Accuracy scores and detection thresholds were collected for each emotion.

Results: Binge drinkers showed lower performance than control participants for the decoding of all emotions and increased detection threshold, this later reflecting less ability to capture an emotion. Binge drinking is thus associated with a need for higher emotional intensity to perform correct detection. Moreover, these emotional difficulties appear specifically related to alcohol consumption.

Conclusion: These findings reinforce previous experimental evidence of altered emotional processing among binge drinkers, and extend these results for various emotional contents. They support the hypothesis of a continuum between binge drinking and alcohol-dependence, in which massive emotional impairments have been documented. Indeed, these impairments could be involved in the onset and maintenance of excessive alcohol consumption, notably through the established relationship between emotional deficits and social distress.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.comppsych.2018.03.004DOI Listing
May 2018

Imbalance between cognitive systems in alcohol-dependence and Korsakoff syndrome: An exploration using the Alcohol Flanker Task.

J Clin Exp Neuropsychol 2018 10 6;40(8):820-831. Epub 2018 Mar 6.

a Laboratory for Experimental Psychopathology, Psychological Sciences Research Institute , Université catholique de Louvain , Louvain-la-Neuve , Belgium.

Background: Alcohol-dependent individuals (ALC) simultaneously present decreased inhibitory control and increased attention towards alcohol-related cues. The dual-process models have proposed that these symptoms reflect an imbalance between prefrontal/reflective and limbic/automatic systems, respectively leading to cognitive dysfunctions in executive processes and to alcohol-related bias. However, most previous research has focused on a separate exploration of these systems among ALC, and the direct measure of their interactions remains to be conducted. Moreover, no study has explored the evolution of this imbalance across the successive stages of alcohol-related disorders, and particularly in Korsakoff syndrome (KS), the most frequent neurological complication of alcohol-dependence.

Method: Ten KS, 14 ALC, and 14 matched control participants performed a modified Flanker task, the "Alcohol Flanker Task," based on congruent, incongruent, and neutral conditions with alcohol-related stimuli. This task required inhibitory processing on alcohol-related stimuli and evaluated, through a behavioral approach, the interaction between reflective and automatic systems, as well as its evolution between ALC and KS.

Results: ALC and KS both presented high reactivity towards alcohol-related stimuli, confirming the presence of alcohol-related bias. KS showed increased omission rates (related to distractor interference) while ALC showed higher false-alarm rates (related to prepotent response inhibition). These results suggest that different inhibitory subcomponents might be altered at the successive stages of the pathology, and experimentally confirms the crucial role of the interaction between reflective and automatic processes in alcohol-use disorders.

Conclusion: The present results reinforce the proposal that alcohol-related cues significantly impact inhibitory control in alcohol-related disorders. However, ALC and KS present different patterns of deficits depending on task complexity (i.e., executive load), thus suggesting a dissociation in inhibitory functions when processing alcohol-related cues.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13803395.2018.1438371DOI Listing
October 2018

Electrophysiological correlates of performance monitoring in binge drinking: Impaired error-related but preserved feedback processing.

Clin Neurophysiol 2017 11 2;128(11):2110-2121. Epub 2017 Sep 2.

Laboratory for Experimental Psychopathology, Psychological Science Research Institute, Université catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium. Electronic address:

Objective: Performance monitoring, which allows efficient behavioral regulation using either internal (error processing) or external (feedback processing) cues, has not yet been explored in binge drinking despite its adaptive importance in everyday life, particularly in the regulation of alcohol consumption. Capitalizing on a theoretical model of risky behaviors, the present study aimed at determining the behavioral and electrophysiological correlates of the cognitive (inhibition) and motivational (reward sensitivity) systems during performance monitoring.

Methods: Event-related potentials were recorded from 20 binge drinkers and 20 non-binge drinkers during two experimental tasks, a speeded Go/No-Go Task [investigating internal error processing by Error-Related Negativity (ERN) and error positivity (Pe)] and a Balloon Analogue Risk Task [investigating external feedback processing by Feedback-Related Negativity (FRN) and P3].

Results: While no group differences were observed at the behavioral level, electrophysiological results showed that binge drinkers, despite having intact feedback-related components, presented modified error-monitoring components (i.e. larger ERN amplitude, delayed Pe latency).

Conclusions: Internal performance monitoring is impaired in binge drinkers, showing an abnormal automatic processing of response errors (ERN) and a decreased processing of their motivational significance (Pe).

Significance: These results suggest that the electrophysiological correlates of inhibitory control allow identifying the specific binge drinking consumption pattern.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.clinph.2017.08.005DOI Listing
November 2017

Crossmodal processing of emotions in alcohol-dependence and Korsakoff syndrome.

Cogn Neuropsychiatry 2017 Sep 8;22(5):436-451. Epub 2017 Sep 8.

a Laboratory for Experimental Psychopathology , Psychological Sciences Research Institute, Université catholique de Louvain , Louvain-la-Neuve , Belgium.

Introduction: Decoding emotional information from faces and voices is crucial for efficient interpersonal communication. Emotional decoding deficits have been found in alcohol-dependence (ALC), particularly in crossmodal situations (with simultaneous stimulations from different modalities), but are still underexplored in Korsakoff syndrome (KS). The aim of this study is to determine whether the continuity hypothesis, postulating a gradual worsening of cognitive and brain impairments from ALC to KS, is valid for emotional crossmodal processing.

Methods: Sixteen KS, 17 ALC and 19 matched healthy controls (CP) had to detect the emotion (anger or happiness) displayed by auditory, visual or crossmodal auditory-visual stimuli. Crossmodal stimuli were either emotionally congruent (leading to a facilitation effect, i.e. enhanced performance for crossmodal condition compared to unimodal ones) or incongruent (leading to an interference effect, i.e. decreased performance for crossmodal condition due to discordant information across modalities). Reaction times and accuracy were recorded.

Results: Crossmodal integration for congruent information was dampened only in ALC, while both ALC and KS demonstrated, compared to CP, decreased performance for decoding emotional facial expressions in the incongruent condition.

Conclusions: The crossmodal integration appears impaired in ALC but preserved in KS. Both alcohol-related disorders present an increased interference effect. These results show the interest of more ecological designs, using crossmodal stimuli, to explore emotional decoding in alcohol-related disorders. They also suggest that the continuum hypothesis cannot be generalised to emotional decoding abilities.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13546805.2017.1373639DOI Listing
September 2017