Amber Copeland

I am a Research Associate at the University of Sheffield. Funded by the MRC, I conduct research that applies computational models of decision-making that derive from the field of cognitive neuroscience to addiction research, including alcohol use disorder and recovery from it. My wider research interests include 1) ‘meaning in life’ and how this construct relates to patterns of substance use, 2) the development and application of novel quantitative techniques to explore behaviour change, and 3) methodology, reproducibility, and open science. Although based in the Department of Psychology, I also work alongside the Sheffield Alcohol Research Group in Sheffield’s School of Health and Related Research.

Modelling value-based decision-making (VBDM) in daily tobacco smokers after experimental manipulation of mood

Delegate Poster Prize-winner (non-student), 2022: Best overall poster

Background: Induction of negative mood increases tobacco choice in dependent smokers; however, less is known about the mechanisms behind this. This study aimed to address this research gap by applying a computational model of value-based decision-making (VBDM) to decisions about tobacco and tobacco-unrelated cues after experimental manipulation of mood.

Method: Pre-registered, within-subject design. Forty-nine daily tobacco smokers (>10 cigarettes per day) were primed to value and devalue tobacco by watching videos that induce negative versus positive mood, respectively. Before and after being primed, participants completed self-report measures of mood and craving to smoke. Subsequently, they completed a two-alternative forced choice task where they chose between two tobacco-related images (in one block) or two tobacco-unrelated (animal) images (in a different block). On each block, participants pressed a key to select the image that they rated most positively during a previous task block. A drift-diffusion model (DDM) was fitted to the reaction time and error data to estimate evidence accumulation (EA) processes and response thresholds during different blocks.

Results: After watching videos intended to induce negative mood, happiness scores were lower (p < .001), while sadness and craving to smoke scores were higher (both ps < .001), compared to after watching videos intended to induce positive mood. However, contrary to hypotheses there were no robust differences in EA rates or response thresholds for either tobacco or tobacco-unrelated decisions.

Conclusions: Manipulation of mood in daily smokers does not alter the internal processes that precede value-based decisions made about tobacco and tobacco-unrelated cues.

Poster link: