Cue-elicited craving and human Pavlovian-to-instrumental transfer

Justin Mahlberg*, Gabrielle Weidemann, Lee Hogarth, Ahmed A. Moustafa

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Drug cue-reactivity can be measured by the well-established cue-elicited craving model, or by the more recently developed Pavlovian to instrumental transfer (PIT) procedure, which quantifies the impact of drug cues on drug-seeking behaviour. It remains unclear whether these two models produce similar cue reactive effects. 

Method: To test this, 38 young adult beer drinkers completed an alcohol cue-elicited craving procedure followed by a specific PIT procedure with alcohol cues. 

Results: There was a significant effect of alcohol cues on craving (p =.007) and on alcohol-seeking behaviour in the PIT procedure (p <.001). Contrary to expectations, these two indices of cue-reactivity were not correlated (r = −.08, p =.66). However, analysis indicated that the alcohol PIT effect was correlated with the self-reported belief that alcohol cues signalled greater effectiveness of the alcohol-seeking response (r =.44, p =.008).

Conclusions: These findings suggest that different measures of cue-reactivity might tap into different responses within an individual. Future research is necessary to consider whether this variance is due to which aspect of cue reactivity is being assessed and whether different types of cue-reactivity are differentially influenced by variables such as outcome expectancy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)482-488
Number of pages7
JournalAddiction Research and Theory
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2019
Externally publishedYes


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