Decreases in the late positive potential to alcohol images among alcohol treatment seekers following mindfulness-based relapse prevention

Darin R. Brown, Trevor C.J. Jackson, Eric D. Claus, Victoria R. Votaw, Elena R. Stein, Charles S.H. Robinson, Adam D. Wilson, Emma Brandt, Violet Fratzke, Vincent P. Clark, Katie Witkiewitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Aim: Heightened craving among individuals with alcohol use disorder (AUD) has been attributed to a hypersensitivity to alcohol cues in attentional brain networks. Active mindfulness training has been shown to help improve attentional control. Here, we examined alcohol cue-related hypersensitivity among individuals with AUD who received rolling group mindfulness-based relapse prevention (MBRP) in combination with transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), over right inferior frontal gyrus. Methods: Participants (n = 68) viewed a series of emotionally negative, emotionally neutral and alcohol-related images. Following image presentation, participants were asked to rate their level of craving for the alcohol cues, and their level of negative affect evoked by neutral and negative cues. During the task, electroencephalogram (EEG) was recorded to capture an event-related component shown to relate to emotionally salient stimuli: The late positive potential (LPP). Participants who completed a follow-up EEG (n = 37) performed the task a second time after up to eight sessions of MBRP coupled with active or sham tDCS. Results: We found that both craving ratings and the LPP significantly decreased in response to alcohol cues from pre- to post-treatment, but not for other image cues. The magnitude of alcohol image craving reductions was associated with the number of MBRP group sessions attended. Active tDCS was not associated with craving ratings, but it was associated with greater LPP amplitudes across image types. Conclusions: Taken together, these results suggest that disruption of alcohol-cue hypersensitivity in people with AUD may be a target mechanism of MBRP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)78-85
Number of pages8
JournalAlcohol and Alcoholism
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 7 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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