An interoceptive basis for alcohol priming effects

Mateo Leganes-Fonteneau, Marsha E. Bates, Evgeny G. Vaschillo, Jennifer F. Buckman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Rationale: Alcohol priming can modulate the value of rewards, as observed through the effects of acute alcohol administration on cue reactivity. However, little is known about the psychophysiological mechanisms driving these effects. Here, we examine how alcohol-induced changes in bodily states shape the development of implicit attentional biases and explicit cue reactivity. Objectives: To characterize the interoceptive correlates of alcohol priming effects on alcohol attentional biases and cue reactivity. Methods: In a two-session double-blind alcohol administration procedure, participants (n=31) were given a 0.4-g/kg dose of alcohol or a placebo drink. Cardiovascular responses were measured before and after alcohol administration to observe the effects of alcohol on viscero-afferent reactivity, as indexed through changes in heart rate variability (HRV) at or near 0.1 Hz (0.1-Hz HRV). Next, participants completed a modified flanker task to examine implicit alcohol attentional biases and provided subjective valence and arousal ratings of alcohol cues to examine explicit cue reactivity. Results: We found that changes in 0.1-Hz HRV after alcohol administration positively correlated with attentional biases, and negatively correlated with alcohol valence ratings; blood alcohol content was a null predictor. Conclusions: This is novel evidence that suggests alcohol-induced changes in bodily states may mediate the occurrence of alcohol priming effects and highlights the potentially generative role of interoceptive mechanisms in alcohol-related behaviors. The differential patterns revealed by implicit biases and explicit response tendencies are considered within the context of the dissociation between wanting and liking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1621-1631
Number of pages11
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmacology


  • Alcohol administration
  • Alcohol priming
  • Attentional bias
  • Heart rate variability
  • Interoception


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