Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine
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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 36  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 164-169

Visual Image-induced Craving for Ethanol (VICE): Development, validation, and a pilot fmri study

1 Department of Psychiatry, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences; Translational Psychiatry Lab, Cognitive Neurobiology Division, Neurobiology Research Centere, Bangalore, Karnataka, India
2 Department of Psychiatry, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bangalore, Karnataka, India
3 Department of Neuroimaging and Interventional Radiology, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bangalore, Karnataka, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Biju Viswanath
Department of Psychiatry, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bangalore - 560 029, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0253-7176.130984

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Background: Craving induction in a controlled environment is helpful in the research of craving mechanism and its role in development of alcohol dependence (AD). We describe a novel tool Visual Image-induced Craving for Ethanol (VICE) and its effects on brain activation with pilot functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Materials and Methods: Alcohol-related visual cues (ARCs) in 5 scenarios were photographed, which included pictures of bars, alcoholic beverage bottles, pouring of alcohol into glasses, glasses filled with alcohol, and scenes of people sipping alcohol, counterbalanced with neutral pictures (involving water, milk etc.,). Craving scores were obtained from 15 hospitalized patients with AD to validate this tool. In the pilot fMRI (3-Tesla) study, 5 patients were examined using VICE in a symptom provocation model. Group level-fixed effect analysis of brain activation differences was done using SPM8. Results: VICE showed a high internal consistency with Cronbach's α coefficient of 0.86, which confirmed its reliability. Concurrent validity of VICE was demonstrated via its convergence with the Penn Alcohol Craving Scale. ARCs had significantly greater mean craving scores than neutral cues in all the 5 scenarios (intentional validity). In the pilot fMRI, patients were found to have greater activation while viewing ARCs compared to the neutral cues in right insular cortex and deficient activation in right orbitofrontal cortex. Conclusions: The VICE is a reliable and valid measure of alcohol craving with promising clinical and translational research implications. Preliminary fMRI findings indicate it can be used as a symptom provocation tool for fMRI experiments.

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