Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters

Document Type


Publication Date


Faculty Advisor(s)

Steven Schandler


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 short (2.5 s) and long (5.0 s) stimulus and response review periods. Within a completely crossed design, subjects in each group received either short stimulus/short response review periods; short stimulus/long response review periods; long stimulus/ short response review periods; or long stimulus/long response review periods. Learning performance consisted of trials to criterion, number of correct, error, and nonresponses, and speed of response.

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.


Presented at the Fall 2014 Undergraduate Student Research Day at Chapman University.