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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2009, 6(7), 2007-2027; doi:10.3390/ijerph6072007
Article

Silent Trace Eliminates Differential Eyeblink Learning in Abstinent Alcoholics

1,2,* , 1
,
1
,
3
 and
1,2
1 Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center (GRECC), VA Boston Healthcare System; Boston, MA, USA 2 Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School; Boston, MA, USA 3 Memory Disorders Research Center (MDRC), Boston University School of Medicine & VA Boston Healthcare System; Boston, MA, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 19 June 2009 / Accepted: 10 July 2009 / Published: 20 July 2009
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Alcohol and Public Health)
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Abstract

Chronic alcoholism has profound effects on the brain, including volume reductions in regions critical for eyeblink classical conditioning (EBCC). The current study challenged abstinent alcoholics using delay (n = 20) and trace (n = 17) discrimination/reversal EBCC. Comparisons revealed a significant difference between delay and trace conditioning performance during reversal (t (35) = 2.08, p < 0.05). The difference between the two tasks for discrimination was not significant (p = 0.44). These data support the notion that alcoholics are increasingly impaired in the complex task of reversing a previously learned discrimination when a silent trace interval is introduced. Alcoholics’ impairment in flexibly altering learned associations may be central to their continued addiction.
Keywords: alcohol; eyeblink classical conditioning; learning; discrimination; reversal alcohol; eyeblink classical conditioning; learning; discrimination; reversal
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).
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Fortier, C.B.; Maksimovskiy, A.L.; Venne, J.R.; LaFleche, G.; McGlinchey, R.E. Silent Trace Eliminates Differential Eyeblink Learning in Abstinent Alcoholics. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2009, 6, 2007-2027.

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