• Cognition;
  • Pharmacology;
  • Normal volunteers;
  • Startle blink;
  • Heart rate;
  • Electrodermal


The present study examined the effects of cigarette smoking on attentional processing by measuring nondeprived smokers' (n=39), minimally deprived smokers' (n=36), and nonsmokers' (n=34) startle eyeblink reflex, heart rate, and skin conductance responses (SCR) to acoustic startle stimuli (105 dB) during directed attention tasks. Whereas smokers demonstrated smaller startle responses than nonsmokers during a directed attention visual task, no difference in startle response magnitude emerged between the two smoking groups, nor did we observe an effect of smoking on SCR or heart rate response to the startle stimuli. Our findings suggest that smokers differ from nonsmokers in their selective attention abilities and that smoking does not enhance minimally deprived smokers' selective attention.