Beer à no-go: Learning to stop responding to alcohol cues reduces alcohol intake via reduced affective associations rather than increased response inhibition

K. Houben*, R.C. Havermans, C. Nederkoorn, A. Jansen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Aims Previous research has shown that consistently not responding to alcohol-related stimuli in a go/no-go training procedure reduces drinking behaviour. This study aimed to examine further the mechanisms underlying this go/no-go training effect. Design, setting and participants Fifty-seven heavy drinkers were assigned randomly to two training conditions: in the beer/no-go condition, alcohol-related stimuli were always paired with a stopping response, while in the beer/go condition participants always responded to alcohol-related stimuli. Participants were tested individually in a laboratory at Maastricht University. Measurements Weekly alcohol intake, implicit attitudes towards beer, approachavoidance action tendencies towards beer and response inhibition were measured before and after the training. Findings Results showed a significant reduction in both implicit attitudes (P = 0.03) and alcohol intake (P = 0.02) in the beer/no-go condition, but not in the beer/go condition. There were no significant training effects on action tendencies or response inhibition. Conclusions Repeatedly stopping pre-potent responses towards alcohol-related stimuli reduces excessive alcohol use via a devaluation of alcohol-related stimuli rather than via increased inhibitory control over alcohol-related responses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1280-1287
Number of pages8
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012


  • Alcohol
  • IAT
  • go
  • implicit attitudes
  • no-go task
  • response inhibition

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