- Can baclofen change alcohol-related cognitive biases and what is the role of anxiety herein?
- Journal of Psychopharmacology
- Volume | Issue number
- 32 | 8
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
BACKGROUND: Baclofen has shown promise in the treatment of alcohol dependence. However, its precise (neuro-) psychological working mechanism is still under debate.
AIMS: This study aimed to get a better understanding of baclofen's working mechanism by examining the effect of baclofen on cognitive biases. It was hypothesized that baclofen, compared to placebo, would lead to weaker cognitive biases. Furthermore, given a suggested anxiolytic effect of baclofen, we expected that anxiety would moderate this effect.
METHODS: From a larger randomized clinical trial (RCT) with 151 participants, a subset of 143 detoxified alcohol-dependent patients, either taking baclofen or placebo, was examined. Attentional bias for alcohol (500 and 1500 ms), alcohol approach tendencies, implicit alcohol-relaxation associations and trait anxiety were assessed before the administration of baclofen or placebo. Four weeks later, 94 patients were still abstinent (53 in the baclofen and 41 in the placebo condition) and cognitive biases were assessed again.
RESULTS: At baseline, patients showed a vigilance-avoidance pattern for the attentional bias (at 500 and 1500 ms, respectively) and alcohol-negative associations. After 4 weeks, an indication for an attentional bias away from alcohol at 500 ms was found only in the baclofen group; however, cognitive biases did not differ significantly between treatment groups. No moderating role of anxiety on cognitive biases was found.
CONCLUSIONS: Baclofen did not lead to a differential change in cognitive biases compared with placebo, and trait anxiety levels did not moderate this. A better understanding of the working mechanism of baclofen and predictors of treatment success would allow prescribing of baclofen in a more targeted manner.
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