, Volume 127, Issue 1-2, pp 155-163

The use of a dual-task procedure for the assessment of cognitive effort associated with cigarette craving

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Two experiments used a dual-task procedure to investigate Tiffany’s (1990) proposal that drug craving should disrupt activities that demand nonautomatic cognitive processing. The primary task required smokers to imagine sentences that incorporated urge or no-urge descriptors. During imagery, the subjects also responded to a secondary reaction time (RT) task. Additional dependent variables collected during the imagery manipulation included craving report, mood report, heart rate (HR), and skin conductance levels (SCL). In study 1, imagery of urge sentences produced slower probe RTs and increases in HR and SCL, greater urge and negative mood reports, and lower positive mood ratings. This same pattern of results was replicated in the second study, which utilized sentence types more closely matched on no-urge content. These results support Tiffany’s (1990) cognitive processing theory and suggest an innovative approach to the investigation of drug craving.