Relation between Social Imitation of Alcohol Use and Social Alcohol Cue Reactivity in Young Adults

No Thumbnail Available
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
For young adults, alcohol consumption primarily occurs in social settings. Social imitation of alcohol use has been found in several studies. Attempts to explain individual differences in social imitation of alcohol use in terms of personality and genetic factors have yielded partial answers. The current study used an incentive sensitization framework to explain variation in social imitation of alcohol use in drinking young adults. We investigated (1) whether young adults display social imitation of alcohol use in a semi-naturalistic (bar-lab) context, as shown in previous studies (Larsen, Engels, Souren, Granic, & Overbeek, 2010; Quigley & Collins, 1999), (2) whether social alcohol cues elicit activity in the reward-related dopaminergic pathway using a novel passive viewing cue exposure task, with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), and (3) whether social imitation of alcohol consumption is associated with cue reactivity to social alcohol cues. A total of 157 drinking young male adults took part in the study. Young adults consumed more alcohol in the presence of a heavy drinking confederate than a light drinking one, demonstrating social imitation. Additionally, greater activity in the ventral striatum and ventral medial prefrontal cortex was found for social alcohol cues, suggesting reward-related activity. Finally, we conclude that social imitation of alcohol use is not associated with social alcohol cue reactivity in the reward-related dopaminergic pathway directly.
Faculteit der Sociale Wetenschappen