Attentional bias modification in male college smokers: the changes of facilitated attention, difficulty in disengagement and the transfer effects of training
Background: Attentional bias modification (ABM) has been used to modify the attentional bias (AB) towards smoking-related cues. Still, the effects of ABM are extensively controversial. The present study aimed to investigate the effects of ABM on AB and its two sub-processes named facilitated attention and difficulty in disengagement at two different stimulus durations, as well as test whether the effects of ABM could transfer to new measures of AB. Method: Forty-six male college smokers were allocated to either ABM group using a modified visual probe task (n = 24), or the corresponding placebo training (PT) group (n = 22). Participants performed three sessions of training in one week. The pre- and post-training AB and its sub-processes were measured using visual probe task. Cue-target task and pictorial Stroop task were used for testing the transfer effects of ABM. Results: The AB in ABM group significantly decreased compared with the PT group. Specifically, the facilitated attention was significantly reduced at 200 ms stimulus duration, while the difficulty in disengagement was significantly decreased at 500 ms stimulus duration. The benefit of ABM training could transfer to the cue-target task, but not to the pictorial Stroop task. Meanwhile, no effects of ABM were observed on smoking craving and nicotine dependence. Conclusions: These findings suggested that the stimulus duration is a crucial factor for the efficacy of ABM on the facilitated attention and the difficulty in disengagement in male college smokers and detected the transfer effects between different measures of AB. Future studies need to further explore the influence mechanism in distinct stimulus durations.