Tech Labs: Experiment on food and alcohol addiction

Excessive alcohol consumption is a major societal problem, especially in adolescence. This is reflected in impaired cognitive abilities, which may lead to academic under-performance and school dropout. Similarly, excessive (unhealthy) food consumption poses a major societal problem in youth. As both behaviors have addictive aspects, they are combined in this study.

Dual process models of addiction suggest a way to counter the development and maintenance of these addictive behaviors. This can be done by restoring the imbalance between weakened cognitive control functions and strong automatic reactions to drug-related cues. Several training paradigms have been developed to (re)train these systems. They are effective in long time users, but prevention of addiction during adolescence is much harder. One reason for this is that adolescents usually don’t see their substance use as problematic and are thus not motivated to train. We use the Tech lab’s shooter game to motivate participants to first measure and later retrain attention processes in food and alcohol addiction.

Principal researchers: Elly Konijn (VU), Wouter Boendermaker (UvA), Jolanda Veldhuis (VU), Johan Hoorn (VU)

The research will take place in April of 2013 in the Game Cella’ Tech Lab

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