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Nicotine Tob Res. 2008 Apr;10(4):599-606. doi: 10.1080/14622200801979159.

Severity of nicotine dependence moderates performance on perceptual-motor tests of attention.

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Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, Laboratory of Molecular Neuroimaging, UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, Los Angeles, CA 90024, USA.


Acute abstinence from cigarette smoking by nicotine-dependent smokers has been linked with cognitive deficits, but the role of nicotine dependence per se in these effects is not known. We therefore tested the relationships of nicotine dependence and smoking history with performance in perceptual-motor, timed tests of attention. Nicotine-dependent smokers (n = 37) and nonsmokers (n = 48), 18-55 years old, took both the d2 Test of Attention and the Digit Symbol Test on each of 2 test days. For smokers, testing on one day began after ad libitum smoking (<45 min since last cigarette); and on the other day, it began after overnight abstinence (>13 hr since last cigarette). On each test day, there were two test blocks with an intervening break, when only the smokers each smoked one cigarette. There were no significant effects of abstinence or of smoking one cigarette on the performance of smokers; however, across conditions, the smokers' performance on both tests correlated negatively with severity of nicotine dependence but not lifetime cigarette consumption or cigarette craving. Smokers with high nicotine dependence performed more slowly on both tests than less dependent smokers or nonsmokers. The findings suggest that severity of nicotine dependence and slowness in perceptual-motor tasks of attention share an underlying basis.

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