Attentional bias to drug-related cues can induce craving, decrease concentration on non-related drug tasks and increase vulnerability to relapse in drug addicts. The aim of this study is to discuss current theories and research methods about the attentional bias role on addictive behaviors. The literature review of Medline, Pubmed and Lilacs databases showed that the dot-probe task and the emotional Stroop test are among the main methods of attentional bias investigation. This review also pointed out the methodological limitations in attentional bias research, suggesting that this phenomenon should be studied under better controlled conditions, which should consider levels of dependence, withdrawal and craving. Further studies on attentional bias can help to understand cognitive processes that underlie addictive behaviors.
attentional bias; drug abuse; emotional stroop task; dot-probe task