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Neuropsychopharmacology. 2007 Jun;32(6):1421-8. Epub 2006 Dec 13.

Effect of cigarette smoking on prefrontal cortical function in nondeprived smokers performing the Stroop Task.

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Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA.


Some reports indicate that cigarette smoking can help smokers focus attention, even when they have not abstained from smoking for a substantial period of time (eg, >1 h). Understanding the mechanisms by which smoking affects attention may help in designing smoking cessation treatments. Thirteen nonsmokers and nine smokers participated in two tests of blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). During fMRI, the participants performed the Stroop Task. There was a 15-min break between the two tests. During the break, each smoker smoked one cigarette. For smokers, the first test began 45-60 min after the last cigarette of ad libitum smoking. The differences in BOLD signal changes between Stroop conditions (ie, incongruent minus congruent) showed a group x test interaction in the right precentral sulcus, including the putative human frontal eye field (FEF). Smokers, but not nonsmokers, showed greater changes (relative to rest) in BOLD signal in the incongruent than in the congruent condition in the first fMRI test but not in the second. Even after brief abstinence from smoking, therefore, smokers exhibit compromised functional efficiency in the right FEF and adjacent precentral sulcus in a test of selective attention; and smoking ameliorates this condition.

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