Investigating the impact of nicotine on executive functions using a novel virtual reality assessment

Jansari, Ashok S.; Froggatt, Daniel; Edginton, Trudi and Dawkins, Lynne. 2013. Investigating the impact of nicotine on executive functions using a novel virtual reality assessment. Addiction, 108(5), pp. 977-984. ISSN 1360-0443 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Aims Nicotine is known to enhance aspects of cognitive functioning in abstinent smokers but the effects on specific areas of executive functions, and in non-smokers are inconclusive. This may be due in part to the poor sensitivity of tests used to assess executive functions. This study used a new virtual reality assessment of executive functions known as JEF (the Jansari assessment of Executive Functions) to address this issue. Design 2x2 design manipulating group (smokers and never-smokers) and drug (nicotine [4mg for smokers; 2mg for never smokers] vs placebo gum). Setting School of Psychology; University of East London Participants 72 participants (aged 18 to 54). 36 minimally-deprived (2 hr) smokers and 36 never-smokers. Measurements Components of executive function were measured using the virtual reality paradigm JEF, which assesses eight cognitive constructs simultaneously as well as providing an overall performance measure. Results Univariate ANOVAs revealed that nicotine improved overall JEF performance, time-based prospective memory and event-based prospective memory in smokers (p < 0.01) but not in never-smokers. Action-based prospective memory was enhanced in both groups (p < 0.01) and never-smokers out-performed smokers on selective thinking and adaptive thinking (p < 0.01). Conclusions. Overall executive functioning and prospective memory can be enhanced by nicotine gum in abstinent smokers. That smokers were only minimally deprived suggests that JEF is a sensitive measure of executive functioning and that prospective memory is particularly susceptible to disruption by abstinence.

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Abstinence. executive functions;nicotine;prospective memory;smokers;virtual reality

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May 2013Published

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Date Deposited:

19 Jan 2015 12:04

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:05

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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