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Psychopharmacology

, Volume 150, Issue 3, pp 283–291 | Cite as

Appetitive nature of drug cues confirmed with physiological measures in a model using pictures of smoking

  • A. Geier
  • P. Pauli
  • R. F. Mucha
Original Investigation

Abstract.

Rationale: In smokers, pictures of smoking that increase desire for a cigarette are described as pleasant rather than unpleasant. This suggests that these smoking cues may be appetitive and not withdrawal-like or aversive as held by traditional theories of drug cue formation. Objective: Cues for smoking were examined using physiological measures of motivational valence. Methods: Non-deprived smokers, deprived smokers and deprived smokers who expected to smoke (n=54) viewed a computer screen presenting experimental and control scenes (experiment 1). The acoustic startle reaction and activity of the corrugator and the zygomatic facial muscles were then measured after onset of smoking cues and standardized pleasant, neutral or unpleasant control scenes. Individuals who never smoked (n=18) were also used to test for cue effects on startle (experiment 2). Results: No evidence was found that smoking cues were aversive in smokers. The smoking cues affected the startle responses and corrugator activity in a way similar to that of pleasant control material but significantly different from that of unpleasant material; the cue effects on zygomatic activity was most similar to that of neutral material. The general pattern of effects was not influenced by overnight smoke deprivation, expectancy to smoke or smoke repletion, but it was different in never smokers where the smoking scenes were found to be similar to unpleasant control scenes. Conclusions: Non-subjective measures of motivational valence further suggest that drug cues are conditioned stimuli having appetitive effects. Startle response modulated by drug cues may be useful for probing motivational processes underlying dependence in the human.

Smoking Nicotine Cue Motivation Deprivation Expectancy Startle reflex EMG Corrugator Zygomatic Craving Relapse Age 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Geier
    • 1
  • P. Pauli
    • 1
  • R. F. Mucha
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Medical Psychology & Behavioural Neurobiology, University of Tuebingen, Gartenstrasse 29, 72074 Tuebingen, GermanyGermany

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