RATIONALE: Understanding the cognitions underpinning substance use has stalled using the Stroop paradigm. OBJECTIVE: To employ a novel version of the flicker paradigm for induced change blindness to independently compare information processing biases in social users of alcohol and cannabis. METHOD: Alcohol and cannabis experiments were independently run. In both, participants were asked to view successively and repeatedly on a monitor two versions of a visual scene (an original and a slightly changed version) until the change was detected. In fact, in both experiments two simultaneous changes competed for detection: a substanceneutral and a substance-related change. RESULTS: In both the alcohol and the cannabis experiments, participants detecting the substance-related change reported higher levels of use than those detecting the substance-neutral change. CONCLUSION: A substance-related processing bias was independently revealed for both substances. The utility of the flicker paradigm for substance use research is demonstrated as sensitive and quick to administer (taking only 1 min).
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