Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Craig R. Rush


Cocaine users display impaired inhibitory control. The influence of cocaine-related stimuli on inhibitory control has not been assessed. The Attentional Bias-Behavioral Activation (ABBA) task uses cocaine and neutral images as cues to determine if drug-related images impair inhibitory control in cocaine users. This dissertation was designed to assess the influence of cocaine images on inhibitory control in cocaine users through the conduct of studies designed to address four aims. The first aim was to demonstrate that cocaine users display impaired inhibitory control following cocaine images compared to neutral images on the ABBA task. This was accomplished through the conduct of two experiments. The first experiment piloted the ABBA task and cocaine users completed the cocaine go (n = 15) or neutral go condition (n = 15) of the task. The second experiment consisted of two studies designed to develop a within-subjects methodology for using the ABBA task. In the first study, cocaine users completed either the cocaine go (n = 20) or neutral go (n = 20) condition of the ABBA task and all participants also completed the Cued Go/No-Go task, with geometric shapes as cues. In the second study, cocaine users (n = 18) completed the cocaine go condition of the ABBA task and a modified version of the ABBA task with all neutral images as cues to further refine a possible within-subjects methodology. The second aim was to demonstrate that inhibitory failures occur most often when cues are presented for short compared to longer durations of time. Data collected during other protocols (n = 91) were combined to investigate the influence of stimulus onset asynchrony (SOA; i.e., the amount of time a cue is presented before a target indicated a response should be executed or withheld) on inhibitory control following cocaine-related and neutral cues on the ABBA task. The third aim was to demonstrate impaired inhibitory control following cocaine images on the ABBA task is specific to cocaine users. Cocaine users (data collected in the second experiment of the first aim) and non-using control participants (n = 16) completed the cocaine go and all neutral conditions of the ABBA task and the Cued Go/No-Go task. The fourth aim was to demonstrate the feasibility and acceptability of inhibitory control training to cocaine-related stimuli with cocaine users. A small pilot clinical trial was conducted and cocaine users were randomly assigned to complete inhibitory control training to cocaine images or geometric shapes. Cocaine images impaired inhibitory control on the ABBA task, as demonstrated by an increased proportion of inhibitory failures in the cocaine go condition compared to the neutral go condition in Experiments 1, 2, and 4. The proportion of inhibitory failures following cocaine images in Experiment 4 was increased at short (i.e., 100, 200) compared to long SOAs. Cocaine images also impaired inhibitory control compared to the Cued Go/No-Go Task in Experiment 2, however there were no differences in the proportion of inhibitory failures between the cocaine go and all neutral conditions of the ABBA task. There were no differences between cocaine users and controls in Experiment 3 for the proportion of inhibitory failures on the ABBA or Cued Go/No-Go tasks, but controls responded faster indicating a speed/accuracy trade off occurred in the control group. Inhibitory control training as an approach to improve treatment outcomes is feasible, as indicated by attendance and accuracy on the training task, and participants rated the overall procedure as satisfactory in Experiment 5. A better understanding of inhibitory control in the presence of cocaine related cues could be crucial to better understand how drug cues contribute to the risk for relapse and the continued use of drugs because both occur in the presence of drug cues.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)