Original Investigation

Psychopharmacology

, Volume 120, Issue 2, pp 209-212

First online:

Smoking, processing speed and attention in a choice reaction time task

  • T. BatesAffiliated withPsychophysiology Laboratory, Department of Psychology, University of Auckland
  • , G. ManganAffiliated withPsychophysiology Laboratory, Department of Psychology, University of Auckland
  • , C. StoughAffiliated withPsychophysiology Laboratory, Department of Psychology, University of Auckland
  • , P. CorballisAffiliated withColumbia University

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Abstract

Nineteen subjects performed a choice reaction time task in which two levels of choice (two and four stimuli), and two levels of spatial attention (narrow and wide) were manipulated under each of two smoking conditions: sham smoking (denicotinised cigarette) or regular smoking (0.8 mg nicotine cigarette). All three factors significantly affected reaction time, with the smallest reaction times being recorded to the two-choice narrow grouped stimuli recorded under the high nicotine condition. Nicotine appears to speed decision time for both complex and hard-to-attend tasks, which is compatible with a role for nicotinic receptors in systems jointly mediating attention, memory and processing speed.

Key words

Information processing Attention Decision time Nicotine Smoking