, Volume 99, Issue 3, pp 393–396 | Cite as

Smoking and human information processing

  • Rachel X. A. Petrie
  • Ian J. Deary
Original Investigations


There is much evidence which indicates that smoking improves various aspects of human information processing (Wesnes 1987). The aim of the present study was to elucidate the stages of human information processing which are improved after cigarette smoking. Twelve regular smokers were tested on three cognitive tasks using a repeated measures design. Tasks used were: rapid visual information processing (RVIP), digit symbol substitution (DSST), and inspection time (IT). Performance parameters derived from these were intended to index different stages of the information processing sequence. Only those measures which involved a motor component were improved after smoking: response time on the RVIP task (P<0.025) and DSST performance (P<0.1). These findings suggest that central cholinergic pathways are involved in the late, response-related stages of the processing sequence.

Key words

Cigarette smoking Nicotine Cholinergic pathways Information processing Reaction time Inspection time 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rachel X. A. Petrie
    • 1
  • Ian J. Deary
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghUK

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