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Exp Clin Psychopharmacol. 1999 Nov;7(4):427-43.

EEG, physiology, and task-related mood fail to resolve across 31 days of smoking abstinence: relations to depressive traits, nicotine exposure, and dependence.

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Department of Psychology, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, 62901, USA.


Changes in task-related mood and physiology associated with 31 days of smoking abstinence were assessed in smokers, 34 of whom were randomly assigned to a quit group and 22 to a continuing-to-smoke control group. A large financial incentive for smoking abstinence resulted in very low participant attrition. Individuals were tested during prequit baselines and at 3, 10, 17, and 31 days of abstinence. Abstinence was associated with decreases in heart rate and serum cortisol, a slowing of electroencephalogram (EEG) activity, and task-dependent and trait-depression-dependent hemispheric EEG asymmetries. Differences between the quit group and the smoking group showed no tendency to resolve across the 31 days of abstinence. Trait depression and neuroticism correlated with increases in left-relative-to-right frontal EEG slow-wave (low alpha) activity at both 3 and 31 days of abstinence. In contrast, prequit nicotine intake and Fagerström Tolerance scores correlated with alpha asymmetry and with greater EEG slowing only at Day 3. Thus, the effects of smoking abstinence appear to last for at least several months.

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