Publications by authors named "Valérie Dormal"

42 Publications

How Should Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation be Used in Populations With Severe Alcohol Use Disorder? A Clinically Oriented Systematic Review.

Clin EEG Neurosci 2021 Mar 18:15500594211001212. Epub 2021 Mar 18.

Louvain Experimental Psychopathology Research Group (LEP), Psychological Science Research Institute, 83415UCLouvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium.

. Severe alcohol use disorder (SAUD) is a major public health concern, given its massive individual, interpersonal, and societal consequences. The available prevention and treatment programs have proven limited effectiveness, as relapse rates are still high in this clinical population. Developing effective interventions reducing the appearance and persistence of SAUD thus constitutes an experimental and clinical priority. Among the new therapeutic approaches, there is a growing interest for noninvasive neuromodulation techniques, and particularly for transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) as an adjunctive treatment in neuropsychiatric disorders, including SAUD. . We propose a systematic review, based on preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses (PRISMA) guidelines, evaluating the available evidence on the effectiveness of tDCS to improve clinical interventions in SAUD. . We provide an integrative overview of studies applying tDCS in clinical populations with SAUD, together with a standardized methodological quality assessment. We show that the currently available data remain inconsistent. Some data suggested that tDCS can (1) reduce craving, relapse or alcohol-cue reactivity and (2) improve cognitive control and inhibition. However, other studies did not observe any beneficial effect of tDCS in SAUD. . Capitalizing on the identified strengths and shortcomings of available results, we present evidence-based clinical guidelines to integrate tDCS in current clinical settings and to combine it with neurocognitive training.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/15500594211001212DOI Listing
March 2021

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

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

Transcranial electric stimulation optimizes the balance of visual attention across space.

Clin Neurophysiol 2020 04 31;131(4):912-920. Epub 2020 Jan 31.

Psychological Sciences Research Institute, Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium.

Objective: Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) provides a way to modulate spatial attention by enhancing the ratio of neural activity between the left and right hemispheres, with a potential benefit for the rehabilitation of visual neglect.

Methods: We tested the effect of bilateral tDCS in healthy individuals performing a visual detection task. This protocol consists in the positioning of the anode and cathode on mirror positions over the left and right parietal areas. The stimulation was repeated over three days to maximize the chance to observe a bias to the hemispace controlateral to the anode.

Results: Compared to a sham treatment, left anodal - right cathodal stimulation enhanced attention across the full range of space, since the first day with no build-up effect on the next days, and modified the balance of left-right omissions when stimuli appeared at the same time.

Conclusion: Bilateral tDCS improved detection in both visual fields, with no privileged processing of one side, except when concurrent stimuli were presented. The results provide partial support to the hemispheric rivalry hypothesis.

Significance: The technique has the potential to boost attention in neglect patients but should be used as an adjuvant rather than as an alternative to functional rehabilitation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.clinph.2019.12.415DOI Listing
April 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

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

Effect of perceived length on numerosity estimation: Evidence from the Müller-Lyer illusion.

Q J Exp Psychol (Hove) 2018 Oct 1;71(10):2142-2151. Epub 2018 Jan 1.

1 Psychological Sciences Research Institute, Université catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium.

Previous studies showed that the magnitude information conveyed by sensory cues, such as length or surface, influences the ability to compare the numerosity of sets of objects. However, the perceptual nature of this representation and how it interacts with the processes involved in numerical judgements remain unclear. This study aims to address these issues by studying the interference of length on numerosity under different perceptual and response conditions. The first experiment shows that the influence of length does not depend on the actual length but on subjective values reflecting the way length is perceived in a given visual context. The Müller-Lyer illusion was used to manipulate the perceived length of two dot arrays independently of their actual length. When the length of two dot arrays was equal but perceived as different due to the illusion, participants erroneously reported differences in the number of dots contained in each array, evidencing a similar effect of Müller-Lyer illusion on length and numerosity comparison. This finding was replicated in a second experiment where participants had to give a verbal estimate of the number of dots contained in a given array, thereby eliminating the choice between a small or large response. Compared with a neutral condition, estimations were systematically larger than the actual number of dots as the illusory length increased. These results demonstrate that the illusory-induced experience of length influences numerosity estimation over and beyond objective cues and that this influence is not a response selection bias.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1747021817738720DOI Listing
October 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

Time perception is not for the faint-hearted? Physiological arousal does not influence duration categorisation.

Cogn Process 2018 Aug 20;19(3):399-409. Epub 2017 Dec 20.

Institut de Recherche en Sciences Psychologiques, Université catholique de Louvain, Place Cardinal Mercier, 10, 1348, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium.

Distortions of duration perception provoked by emotion-induced arousal changes are explained by modifications of an internal clock pace. Yet, uncertainty still abounds regarding whether changes of arousal induced by physical exercise yield such temporal distortions. Here, we report two experiments aiming to test separately the impact of, on the one hand, a physical induction of arousal and, on the other hand, a task delay on duration categorisation. In Experiment 1, participants performed a duration categorisation task before and after heart-rate manipulation (increase, decrease, or no change). Duration overestimation was observed after HR manipulation, irrespective of the condition, implying that changes of physiological arousal alone cannot explain the temporal bias observed. In Experiment 2, participants performed the duration task twice without delay or arousal manipulation, and no overestimation was observed. Together, these results suggest that the overestimation observed in the context of a delayed duration categorisation task is related to a distortion of memorised standard durations caused by time lag rather than by a physiological arousal effect.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10339-017-0852-3DOI Listing
August 2018

Developmental Dyscalculia in Adults: Beyond Numerical Magnitude Impairment.

J Learn Disabil 2018 Nov/Dec;51(6):600-611. Epub 2017 Sep 23.

1 Université catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium.

Numerous studies have tried to identify the core deficit of developmental dyscalculia (DD), mainly by assessing a possible deficit of the mental representation of numerical magnitude. Research in healthy adults has shown that numerosity, duration, and space share a partly common system of magnitude processing and representation. However, in DD, numerosity processing has until now received much more attention than the processing of other non-numerical magnitudes. To assess whether or not the processing of non-numerical magnitudes is impaired in DD, the performance of 15 adults with DD and 15 control participants was compared in four categorization tasks using numerosities, lengths, durations, and faces (as non-magnitude-based control stimuli). Results showed that adults with DD were impaired in processing numerosity and duration, while their performance in length and face categorization did not differ from controls' performance. Our findings support the idea of a nonsymbolic magnitude deficit in DD, affecting numerosity and duration processing but not length processing.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0022219417732338DOI Listing
October 2019

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

Preserved Crossmodal Integration of Emotional Signals in Binge Drinking.

Front Psychol 2017 15;8:984. Epub 2017 Jun 15.

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

Binge drinking is an alcohol consumption pattern with various psychological and cognitive consequences. As binge drinking showed qualitatively comparable cognitive impairments to those reported in alcohol-dependence, a continuum hypothesis suggests that this habit would be a first step toward alcohol-related disorders. Besides these cognitive impairments, alcohol-dependence is also characterized by large-scale deficits in emotional processing, particularly in crossmodal contexts, and these abilities have scarcely been explored in binge drinking. Emotional decoding, most often based on multiple modalities (e.g., facial expression, prosody or gesture), yet represents a crucial ability for efficient interpersonal communication and social integration. The present study is the first exploration of crossmodal emotional processing in binge drinking, in order to test whether binge drinkers already present the emotional impairments described among alcohol-dependent patients, in line with the continuum hypothesis. Twenty binge drinkers and 20 matched controls performed an experimental task requiring the identification of two emotions (happiness or anger) presented in two modalities (visual or auditory) within three conditions (unimodal, crossmodal congruent or crossmodal incongruent). In accordance with previous research in binge drinking and alcohol-dependence, this study was based on two main hypotheses. First, binge drinkers would present a reduced facilitation effect (i.e., classically indexed in healthy populations by faster reaction times when two congruent modalities are presented simultaneously). Second, binge drinkers would have higher difficulties to inhibit interference in incongruent modalities. Results showed no significant difference between groups in emotional decoding ability, whatever the modality or condition. Control participants, however, appeared slower than binge drinkers in recognizing facial expressions, also leading to a stronger facilitation effect when the two modalities were presented simultaneously. However, findings did not show a disrupted facilitation effect in binge drinkers, whom also presented preserved performance to inhibit incongruence during emotional decoding. The current results thus suggest that binge drinkers do not demonstrate a deficit for emotional processing, both in unimodal and crossmodal contexts. These results imply that binge drinking might not be characterized by impairments for the identification of primary emotions, which could also indicate that these emotional processing abilities are well-preserved at early stages of excessive alcohol consumption.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00984DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5471335PMC
June 2017

Shifts of spatial attention underlie numerical comparison and mental arithmetic: Evidence from a patient with right unilateral neglect.

Neuropsychology 2017 Oct 30;31(7):822-833. Epub 2017 Mar 30.

Institut de Recherche en Sciences Psychologiques, Université Catholique de Louvain.

Objectives: Recent findings suggest that mental arithmetic involves shifting attention on a mental continuum in which numbers would be ordered from left to right, from small to large numbers, with addition and subtraction causing rightward or leftward shifts, respectively. Neuropsychological data showing that brain-damaged patients with left neglect experience difficulties in solving subtraction but not addition problems support this hypothesis. However, the reverse dissociation is needed to establish the causal role of spatial attention in mental arithmetic.

Method: R.H., a 65-year-old left-brain-damaged patient exhibiting right unilateral visuospatial and representational neglect, was tested with various numerical tasks including numerical comparison, arithmetic problem-solving, and numerical interval bisection.

Results: In numerical comparison, R.H. showed a selective response latency increase when judging numbers larger than the references whereas his performance was normal for numbers smaller than the references. In the arithmetic task, R.H. was impaired in solving addition but not subtraction problems. In contrast, performance in number bisection shows a deviation toward larger numbers.

Conclusion: These results establish a double dissociation between subtraction and addition solving in patients with left versus right neglect and demonstrate clear evidence that attentional mechanisms are crucial for mental arithmetic. We suggest that attention shifts are involved whenever a number is represented relative to another on a mental continuum, be it during numerical comparison or arithmetic problem-solving. R.H.'s performance in numerical interval bisection indicates that this task involves processes that are distinct from those involved in number comparison and mental arithmetic. (PsycINFO Database Record
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/neu0000361DOI Listing
October 2017

Does early blindness significantly enhance arithmetic? Yes it does. A reply to Fischer's commentary.

Authors:
Valérie Dormal

Cortex 2017 04 20;89:173-174. Epub 2017 Feb 20.

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

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cortex.2017.01.025DOI Listing
April 2017

Early but not late blindness leads to enhanced arithmetic and working memory abilities.

Cortex 2016 10 28;83:212-21. Epub 2016 Jul 28.

Institut de Recherche en Sciences Psychologiques, Université catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium; Centre for Mind/Brain Science, University of Trento, Italy.

Behavioural and neurophysiological evidence suggest that vision plays an important role in the emergence and development of arithmetic abilities. However, how visual deprivation impacts on the development of arithmetic processing remains poorly understood. We compared the performances of early (EB), late blind (LB) and sighted control (SC) individuals during various arithmetic tasks involving addition, subtraction and multiplication of various complexities. We also assessed working memory (WM) performances to determine if they relate to a blind person's arithmetic capacities. Results showed that EB participants performed better than LB and SC in arithmetic tasks, especially in conditions in which verbal routines and WM abilities are needed. Moreover, EB participants also showed higher WM abilities. Together, our findings demonstrate that the absence of developmental vision does not prevent the development of refined arithmetic skills and can even trigger the refinement of these abilities in specific tasks.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cortex.2016.07.016DOI Listing
October 2016

Impact of optokinetic stimulation on mental arithmetic.

Psychol Res 2017 Jul 24;81(4):840-849. Epub 2016 Jun 24.

Institut de Recherche en Sciences Psychologiques and Institute of Neuroscience, Université catholique de Louvain, Place Cardinal Mercier, 10, 1348, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium.

Solving arithmetic problems has been shown to induce shifts of spatial attention, subtraction problems orienting attention to the left side, and addition problems to the right side of space. At the neurofunctional level, the activations elicited by the solving of arithmetical problems resemble those elicited by horizontal eye movements. Whether overt orientation of attention (i.e., eye movements) can be linked to the solving procedure is, however, still under debate. In the present study, we used optokinetic stimulation (OKS) to trigger automatic eye movements to orient participants' overt attention to the right or to the left of their visual field while they were solving addition or subtraction problems. The results show that, in comparison to leftward OKS and a control condition, rightward OKS facilitates the solving of addition problems that necessitate a carrying procedure. Subtraction solving was unaffected by leftward or rightward OKS. These results converge with previous findings to show that attentional shifts are functionally related to mental arithmetic processing.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00426-016-0784-zDOI Listing
July 2017

Enhancing duration processing with parietal brain stimulation.

Neuropsychologia 2016 05 29;85:272-7. Epub 2016 Mar 29.

Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, London, UK; Psychology Department, Goldsmiths College, University of London, London, UK.

Numerosity and duration are thought to share common magnitude-based mechanisms in brain regions including the right parietal and frontal cortices like the supplementary motor area, SMA. Numerosity and duration are, however, also different in several intrinsic features. For instance, in a quantification context, numerosity is known for being more automatically accessed than temporal events, and durations are by definition sequential whereas numerosity can be both sequential and simultaneous. Moreover, numerosity and duration processing diverge in terms of their neuronal correlates. Whether these observed neuronal specificities can be accounted for by differences in automaticity or presentation-mode is however not clear. To address this issue, we used brain stimulation (transcranial random noise stimulation, tRNS) to the right parietal cortex or the SMA combined with experimental stimuli differing in their level of automaticity (numerosity and duration) and presentation mode (sequential or simultaneous). Compared to a no stimulation group, performance changed in duration but not in numerosity categorisation following right parietal but not SMA stimulation. These results indicate that the right parietal cortex is critical for duration processing, and suggest that tRNS has a stronger effect on less automatic processes such as duration.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2016.03.033DOI Listing
May 2016

Duration and numerical estimation in right brain-damaged patients with and without neglect: Lack of support for a mental time line.

Br J Psychol 2016 Aug 22;107(3):467-83. Epub 2015 Sep 22.

Psychological Sciences Research Institute and Institute of Neuroscience, Catholic University of Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium.

Previous studies have shown that left neglect patients are impaired when they have to orient their attention leftward relative to a standard in numerical comparison tasks. This finding has been accounted for by the idea that numerical magnitudes are represented along a spatial continuum oriented from left to right with small magnitudes on the left and large magnitudes on the right. Similarly, it has been proposed that duration could be represented along a mental time line that shares the properties of the number continuum. By comparing directly duration and numerosity processing, this study investigates whether or not the performance of neglect patients supports the hypothesis of a mental time line. Twenty-two right brain-damaged patients (11 with and 11 without left neglect), as well as 11 age-matched healthy controls, had to judge whether a single dot presented visually lasted shorter or longer than 500 ms and whether a sequence of flashed dots was smaller or larger than 5. Digit spans were also assessed to measure verbal working memory capacities. In duration comparison, no spatial-duration bias was found in neglect patients. Moreover, a significant correlation between verbal working memory and duration performance was observed in right brain-damaged patients, irrespective of the presence or absence of neglect. In numerical comparison, only neglect patients showed an enhanced distance effect for numerical magnitude smaller than the standard. These results do not support the hypothesis of the existence of a mental continuum oriented from left to right for duration. We discuss an alternative account to explain the duration impairment observed in right brain-damaged patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bjop.12155DOI Listing
August 2016