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Exp Clin Psychopharmacol. 2008 Dec;16(6):521-31. doi: 10.1037/a0014246.

Cigarette abstinence impairs memory and metacognition despite administration of 2 mg nicotine gum.

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Department of Psychology, California State University, CA, USA.


The authors assessed the effects of cigarette abstinence (nonabstinent vs. minimum 8 hours abstinent) and nicotine gum (0 mg vs. 2 mg nicotine) on sustained attention, free recall, and metacognition using a within-subjects design. Moderate smokers (10 women and 22 men) received one training session followed by four test sessions on consecutive days. Nicotine gum improved sustained attention in both abstinent and nonabstinent states, but had no significant effect on predicted or actual recall levels. Cigarette abstinence significantly impaired free recall and reduced the magnitude of participants' predictions of their own performance. In addition, participants were significantly more overconfident about their future memory when abstinent. Thus, nicotine gum can improve smokers' performance in basic aspects of cognition (e.g., sustained attention) but may not alleviate the detrimental effects of cigarette abstinence on higher-level processes such memory and metacognition.

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