Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

William D. Gouvier


This study reviews the relapse prevention and neuropsychological literature relevant to alcoholism. The argument was made that impaired neuropsychological functioning may be an important determinant of relapse. Specifically, neuropsychological impairment was expected to affect the manner in which individuals respond to conditioned alcohol cues so as to increase their attention to the cues and increase their desire to drink, a process which might adversely affect recovery. In order to study the impact of conditioned alcohol cues, subjective, objective, and psychophysiological responses of brain-damaged alcoholics, nonbrain-damaged alcoholics, and nonbrain-damaged social drinkers were compared on their responses to alcohol and to water. The results revealed that the presence of neuropsychological deficits was differentially associated with how alcoholics responded to the two types of stimuli. It was suggested that alcoholics with neuropsychological deficits exhibited some sort of selective attentional process for alcohol that differentially reduced the attention paid to the competing stimuli. A model was proposed to illustrate this effect. It was concluded that the study has important research and clinical implications. Most importantly, alcoholics should be assessed for brain damage and any attentional deficits be rehabilitated in much the same manner as brain injured patients.