Parental history of alcoholism is associated with increased alcoholism risk in their children. One factor increasing alcoholism risk is the presence of attention and information encoding disruptions in adult children of alcoholics (ACOA) compared to persons who are not ACOAs (NACOA). Alcohol ingestion reduces these disruptions in ACOAs. This study examined whether alterations of information processing parameters can function like alcohol and reduce processing disruptions experienced by the ACOA. Participants were 80 ACOAs and 80 NACOAs, partitioned into four groups of 20 participants. During learning, subjects studied presentations of stimulus items followed by the presentation of associated response items. The task was to learn which stimulus was associated with which response item. Based on information processing parameters, the study used a 2.5 second learning response period and either a short (3.0 second) or a long (5.0 second) period for evaluating whether the response was or was not correct. Within each group, one-half of the subjects received a short and one-half received a long response evaluation period. In addition to learning performance, information processing was evaluated using psychophysiological-indices of resource allocation in the central nervous system.
Whereas the learning performance of the ACOAs during the short review periods was significantly below the performance of the NACOAs, the groups did not significantly differ during long review period conditions. The findings support the implementation of “tuning” information processing parameters to compensate for processing disruptions related to ACOA-status. This outcome could allow development of focused preventive strategies for persons at higher risk for alcoholism.
Snelgrove, Brooke; Stephens, Taylor; Akbari, Yasmin; Yoshiura, Reyn; and Andrade, Lilian, "Adjusting Learning Parameters to Increase Cognitive Resource Allocation in Persons with Alcoholism Risk" (2014). Student Research Day Abstracts and Posters. 5.