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Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2010 Oct;212(3):309-20. doi: 10.1007/s00213-010-1953-1. Epub 2010 Jul 29.

Attentional bias toward cigarette cues in active smokers.

Author information

  • 1Department of Psychology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, CB 3270, Davie Hall, Chapel Hill, NC, 27599-3270, USA. vmwest@email.unc.edu

Abstract

RATIONALE:

While it is well documented that substance users exhibit attentional bias toward addiction-related stimuli, the exact mechanism remains unclear.

OBJECTIVES:

To differentiate between distinct aspects of attentional allocation in the smoking-cue attentional bias observed in smokers.

METHODS:

Active smokers (AS) and non-smoking controls completed spatial cueing tasks with pairs of smoking and neutral pictorial cues to measure attentional capture, and an attentional blink task with either a smoking or neutral image appearing behind the first target (T1) to measure aspects of attention separate from capture. In addition, we tested groups of sports enthusiasts, and non-enthusiasts in corresponding tasks replacing smoking images with sports-related images to address the possibility that effects found in the smoking study were due simply to greater stimulus familiarity.

RESULTS:

Smoking cues reflexively capture smokers' attention, as AS showed a greater bias toward smoking cues in short stimulus-onset asynchrony (SOA; the time between the onset of two stimuli) trials, but not in trials with a longer SOA. These effects represent a facilitation of responding to smoking- versus neutral-cued targets, and were absent in the sports control task. The attentional blink effects were similar in the smoking- and sports-cue experiments: the special T1 resulted in better detection of the second target for the smokers and sports enthusiasts.

CONCLUSIONS:

Stimulus familiarity may contribute to some aspects of attentional bias in regular nicotine users, but selective quick capture of attention by smoking cues may be nicotine-habit specific.

PMID:
20668841
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2967198
Free PMC Article
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