, Volume 110, Issue 3, pp 333–336 | Cite as

Nicotine abstinence produces content-specific stroop interference

  • Todd M. Gross
  • Murray E. Jarvik
  • Martin R. Rosenblatt
Original Investigations


Adult, male smokers were randomly assigned to be nicotine abstinent for 12 h (n=10) or to smoke normally for the same period of time (n=10). Performance on a modified version of the Stroop (1935) color-naming task, where subjects named the color of ink in which each of a series of words was written, showed that abstinent smokers took significantly longer to color-name words related to cigarette smoking (e.g., Lighter) than to color-name neutral control words (e.g., Pennant). Non-abstinent smokers showed a significant difference in the opposite direction. These results suggest that nicotine abstinence decreases the ability to ignore the meaning of smoking-related information. This finding supports the hypothesis that abstinence produces a content-specific shift in attentional focus. The present pattern of results cannot be explained by a general decrease in cognitive function due to nicotine abstinence.

Key words

Abstinence Intrusive thoughts Nicotine Priming Semantic activation Stroop interference 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Todd M. Gross
    • 1
  • Murray E. Jarvik
    • 2
  • Martin R. Rosenblatt
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.West Los Angeles VA Medical Center, Wadsworth and Brentwood Division, Wilshire and Sawtelle BoulevardsLos AngelesUSA

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