Contribution of alcohol- and cigarette-related cues to concurrent reinforcer choice in humans

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Drug-related cues have been extensively studied for their contributions to decision-making processes involving drug consumption. Less studied is how drug-related stimuli may impact decisions involving outcomes not directly related to substance use. Studies using concurrent choice tasks have demonstrated that cocaine and cannabis cues result in robust and selective biases for monetary reinforcers contiguous with those cues. The purpose of this study was to provide a conceptual replication of these findings with alcohol and cigarettes. Participants recruited using crowdsourcing completed a cued concurrent choice task involving presentation of two cues (one drug and one neutral) followed by concurrent monetary offers below each image. Alcohol (Experiment 1; N = 103) and cigarette (Experiment 2; N = 256) visual cues were evaluated. Participants with hazardous alcohol use and current cigarette use showed greater-than-indifference selection for the alcohol- (p = .004) and cigarette-cued (p = .02) monetary choices, respectively. Qualitative responses indicated that the most popular rationale for responding was “image quality” despite images having no explicit impact on the reinforcer received. Low alcohol use (p = .03) and non-cigarette using controls (p < .001) showed an avoidance bias with lower-than-indifference selection for drug-cued choices. These findings replicate and extend observations that spatially contiguous drug-related cues can bias decisions involving concurrently presented non-drug reinforcers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104124
JournalBehavioural Processes
StatePublished - Jul 2020


  • Addiction
  • Crowdsourcing
  • Decision-Making
  • Qualitative
  • Smoking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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