Cognitive processing of drug-related stimuli: The role of memory and attention

Aviv Weinstein, W. Miles Cox

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Recent studies have investigated the role of attentional biases and memory in alcohol and other drugs of dependence and the relationship between the motivation to use alcohol or other drugs and vigilance for relevant stimuli in alcohol and drug dependence. Based on this research, we describe relationships among motivation, memory, and attentional biases in order to enable better understanding of their multiple and interacting roles in the maintenance and development of alcohol and other drug dependence. We argue that memory and attentional processes are critical in the development and maintenance of addiction processes. Furthermore, we assume that attentional bias is not simply a by-product of an addiction disorder but plays a vital role in its development and maintenance, and it serves to enhance actual drug use. Finally, we predict that the motivation to use alcohol or other drugs will increase vigilance for substance-related stimuli, which in turn can lead to actual use. Future research is needed to fill gaps in our knowledge and lead to a more defined and articulated cognitive-behavioural model of drug dependence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)850-859
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Psychopharmacology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Attention
  • Craving
  • Drug-dependence
  • Memory


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