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Neuroimaging study: Negative messages less effective on those who are substance dependent

November 26, 2012

What types of public messages will most likely deter drug and alcohol abuse or dissuade people from engaging in risky behavior? Negatively framed messages may not be an effective way to reach those most in need of persuasion, suggests a new study in Psychology of Addictive Behaviors by researchers from Indiana University and Wayne State University. Tim Bogg, assistant professor at Wayne State University, was a co-author. Using neuroimaging techniques, the researchers examined the impact of different messages on the brains of substance-dependent individuals and compared them to their effects on non-substance-dependent individuals. They also sought to determine where the problem lies in the circuit between message, brain and behavior, where the signal goes wrong. The findings suggest that the level of brain activity in regions of the brain that assess risk is lower in substance-dependent individuals than those who are not drug- or alcohol-dependent.