Experience-Dependent Neuropsychological Recovery and the Treatment of Alcoholism

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neuropsychological remediation, acquisition of content of relapse prevention program, alcoholic males in rehabilitation

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Accumulating research has shown that some cognitive deficits in recently abstinent alcoholics (e.g., cognitive flexibility, acquisition of novel skills) improve only with remediation in contrast to the spontaneous, time-dependent rebound seen for other tasks. In principle, this facilitated or experience-dependent recovery should enhance acquisition of the content of alcoholism treatment programs, but this relationship has yet to be tested empirically; previous research assessed recovery using only neuropsychological tasks presented by an experimenter. The current investigation focused on treatment-relevant remediation (acquisition of the content of a relapse-prevention [RP] program) using tasks administered by self-guided workbooks. Four groups of male alcoholics received pre- and posttesting. Between the 2 testing sessions, the groups received neuropsychological remediation tasks (n = 15), ecologically relevant tasks (n = 15), attention-placebo tasks (n = 16), or no intervention (n = 15). Results showed that exposure to both types of remediation produced significant cognitive recovery, with skills transferring to posttest neuropsychological measures and RP acquisition. Hence, cognitive remediation may facilitate alcoholism treatment.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, v. 61, issue 5, p. 812-821