The overall goal of the proposed training plan is to further develop my knowledge and research skills in the areas of substance use and health risk behaviors and to integrate this with an understanding of behavioral pharmacology methodology and data analysis. This experience will also foster my development as a scientist-practitioner such that my research and clinical training will ultimately inform future research on the etiology and treatment of substance use disorders and related health issues. Toward these ends, the candidate has designed a research project that involves mentored, didactic, and experiential research and clinical training across three primary areas: 1) Addiction, 2) Health Risk Behaviors, and 3) Clinical Competence. The applicant aims to build on previous training in substance use and cognitive mechanisms of health risk behaviors to conduct a dissertation project that unites these two areas in a novel direction. The project would be an important step in achieving my career goal to pursue a faculty position in an academic psychology department where I will carry out independent research and supervise trainees. The general aim of the proposed research training program is to delineate a clear profile of the conjoint effects of alcohol and caffeine on critical affective, behavioral, and cognitive outcomes in young social drinkers. The motivation for examining this particular drug combination comes from a burgeoning yet small literature on the conjoint effects of caffeine and alcohol on subjective intoxication and psychomotor performance. These studies collectively demonstrate that although caffeine only mildly antagonizes the effects of alcohol, individuals nonetheless feel less impaired, and report being more likely to drive or continue to drink alcohol. This observation may be explained either by the pharmacological effects of caffeine or by individuals'expectations for caffeine to counteract the untoward effects of alcohol. The proposed project aims to examine whether: 1) caffeine offsets the effects of alcohol on indices of risk behavior, personal agency (self- control), and impulsivity and 2) outcome expectancies for caffeine influences these outcomes. Behavioral data will include performance on a series of computerized tasks assessing risk taking and risk perception, impulsivity, and judgments of agency. Participants will also complete a battery of questionnaires that will measure expectations for alcohol and caffeine, and state affect among other important constructs. Data will be collected from 128 men and women in a randomized controlled, double-blind laboratory study. We predict that individuals who drink alcohol and caffeine will manifest less risky and impulsive behavior to the extent that caffeine does, or is expected to, mitigate the cognitive impairments induced by alcohol and increase accuracy of judgments of agency. This area of research is in its nascent stages and is sorely needed given the popularity of caffeinated alcoholic beverages. Accordingly, this study will be one of the first to evaluate the conjoint effects of these drugs on health-risk behaviors and findings may inform public health efforts.
|Heinz, Adrienne J; de Wit, Harriet; Lilje, Todd C et al. (2013) The combined effects of alcohol, caffeine, and expectancies on subjective experience, impulsivity, and risk-taking. Exp Clin Psychopharmacol 21:222-34|
|Heinz, Adrienne J; Lilje, Todd C; Kassel, Jon D et al. (2012) Quantifying reinforcement value and demand for psychoactive substances in humans. Curr Drug Abuse Rev 5:257-72|
|Newcomb, Michael E; Heinz, Adrienne J; Mustanski, Brian (2012) Examining risk and protective factors for alcohol use in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth: a longitudinal multilevel analysis. J Stud Alcohol Drugs 73:783-93|