Behavioral Dysregulation and Alcohol Sensitivity in Risky Drivers

Grants and Contracts Details


Alcohol-related traffic fatality and injury continue to be a major public health problem, prompting the need for research aimed at identifying characteristics of DUI drivers in efforts to improve treatment and prevention. Although DUI offenders report traits of impulsivity, suggesting poor inhibitory control and heightened reward sensitivity, the specific cognitive characteristics underlying such behavioral dysregulation have not been systematically studied in the laboratory. The over-arching hypothesis of this proposal is that deficient inhibitory control and increased sensitivity to the disinhibiting effects of alcohol contribute to the risk of DUI, and possibly to its recidivism. The proposed project views DUI offenders from a cognitive dysfunction perspective that targets deficits in specific mechanisms of behavioral regulation. The research will directly evaluate driving performance and mechanisms of self-regulation (e.g., inhibitory control, reward-seeking) in recidivist DUI offenders and will test hypotheses that these high-risk drivers respond differently to alcohol, with increased disinhibition and risk-taking, and that these factors contribute to their decisions to drive after drinking. The proposal represents an innovative application of state-of-the-art assessments and techniques to identify the specific neurocognitive characteristics that underlie risky driving behavior, and which could be candidate mechanisms for treatment and prevention. The project aims fit well with the recent NIH Funding Opportunity Announcement (PA-10-255), Behavioral Regulation Mechanisms of Alcohol Dependence and Related Phenotypes aimed at promoting research on the effects of alcohol on neurocognitive mechanisms implicated in impulse control.
Effective start/end date8/5/137/31/19


  • National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: $647,312.00


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