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Brain wave assessment of tobacco cessation readiness

Institution: Scripps Research Institute
Investigator(s): Aaron Ilan, Ph.D.
Award Cycle: 1997 (Cycle 6) Grant #: 6KT-0312 Award: $115,487
Subject Area: Nicotine Dependence
Award Type: New Investigator Awards
Abstracts

Initial Award Abstract
The purpose of this research application is to investigate how tobacco use affects the memory functions of young smokers, and to use information about these effects to aid the prevention of smoking among young adults and increase success rates of smoking cessation programs. These goals will be pursued by studying groups of young adults who have recently started to smoke, as well as those who are currently trying to quit smoking. Equal and sufficiently large numbers of male and female subjects will be employed for all comparisons. The effects of cigarette smoking in general, and nicotine dose in particular, on memory function will be gauged by measuring response accuracy and reaction time. How long it takes smokers to retrieve information from memory will be compared before and after they have smoked cigarettes. The effects of smoking on the brain will also be monitored more directly by measuring the brainwaves associated with specific mental operations, such as memory retrieval. Previous studies have noted changes in certain brainwave patterns as a result of tobacco smoking, and the present proposal will investigate more precisely the joint effects of tobacco use, nicotine dose, and gender on these physiological changes.

The proposed project is organized into two phases: Study I will use a memory retrieval task to evaluate the mental functioning of young adults before and after smoking cigarettes containing different amounts of nicotine. The results will reveal how tobacco use, nicotine dose, subject gender, and difficulty of a task combine to influence the efficiency of memory processes. Study II will use the results of the first experiment to investigate the relationship between such physiological effects of tobacco use and success in smoking cessation. Individuals will be tested at the beginning of a stop-smoking program and two more times as they progress throughout the program to investigate whether smokers who show the largest physiological effects of tobacco and nicotine have the most difficulty giving up cigarettes. Smokers not trying to quit will be tested as well, to provide a comparison for the observed behavioral and brainwave changes as smokers slowly break their addiction to cigarettes. In sum, the proposed experiments will investigate the effects of tobacco use on the memory functions of young adults who have recently begun to smoke, as well as those who are now trying to quit. Thus, the results will provide crucial information regarding the potential damaging effects of tobacco use on higher mental processes in those individuals most at risk to start this harmful activity. These results can then be applied to smoking cessation programs to evaluate different intervention techniques.

Final Report
The purpose of this project was to investigate how tobacco use and nicotine withdrawal affects the memory functions of young smokers, and to use information about these effects to aid the prevention of smoking among young adults. These goals were pursued by studying young adults who are regular cigarette smokers. The effects of cigarette smoking and nicotine withdrawal on memory function were gauged by measuring response accuracy and reaction time. How long it takes smokers to retrieve information from memory was compared before and after they smoked cigarettes. The effects of smoking on the brain were also monitored more directly by measuring the brainwaves associated with specific mental operations, such as memory retrieval. Previous studies have noted changes in certain brainwave patterns as a result of tobacco smoking, and the present proposal investigated more precisely the joint effects of tobacco use, nicotine dose, and gender on these physiological changes. The study used a memory retrieval task to evaluate the mental functioning of young adults before and after smoking cigarettes. In some conditions the subjects had abstained for smoking for 12 hours before performing the memory task, whereas in other conditions they had smoked in their usual manner before the experiment. Both the behavioral and electrophysiological results suggested that smokers' performance improved after smoking. However, these benefits were largely due to the relief from adverse nicotine withdrawal symptoms that smoking provided: When subjects had not been smoking abstinent before the experiment, their improvements after smoking were not nearly as dramatic as those observed when they were suffering from nicotine withdrawal. These results suggest that one reason why cigarette smokers continue to smoke despite the well-known medical risks is that the nicotine withdrawal symptoms suffered when they attempt to quit negatively affects memory and concentration.
Publications

ERP effects of smoking on fixed and varied set memory scanning
Periodical: Psychophysiology Index Medicus:
Authors: Ilan AB, Polich J ABS
Yr: 1997 Vol: 34 Nbr: Abs: S46 Pg:

Tobacco Smoking and Memory Scanning: Behavioral and Event-Related Potential Effects
Periodical: Proceedings of the International Conference on Prevention and Early Diagnosis of Lung Cancer Index Medicus:
Authors: Ilan AB, Polich J ART
Yr: 0 Vol: Nbr: Abs: Pg: