Caffeine cue-reactivity: The impact of caffeine-related stimuli and expectancies on caffeine craving.
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Caffeine is consumed by approximately 90% of adults, yet its potential addictive properties have been understudied. Specifically, this study examined the impact caffeine cue reactivity and expectancy on caffeine craving and withdrawal. Following 18-hour caffeine abstinence, 65 participants, all daily caffeine consumers, had their caffeine craving and withdrawal symptoms assessed. They then received either caffeine-containing or placebo gum; some received inaccurate information regarding the gum’s caffeine content. Next, participants were exposed to neutral- and caffeine-related stimuli (first visual, then auditory/olfactory), before having their craving measured again. In this study, we demonstrated the first-known example of caffeine cue reactivity. Caffeine cues elicited increased caffeine and coffee craving as well as increased heart rate. We also demonstrated brief temporary expectancy effects; caffeine withdrawal symptoms decreased for those who were told they consumed caffeine gum 30 minutes post gum administration. However, there was no impact of expectancy on caffeine or coffee craving.