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Emotional reactivity to emotional and smoking cues during smoking abstinence: Potentiated startle and P300 suppression

Authors

  • Jeffrey M. Engelmann,

    1. Department of Psychology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
    2. Center for Cognitive Sciences, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
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  • Jonathan C. Gewirtz,

    1. Department of Psychology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
    2. Center for Cognitive Sciences, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
    3. Department of Neuroscience, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
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  • Bruce N. Cuthbert

    1. Department of Psychology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
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  • This research was supported by NIH 5-T32-HD00715 and the University of Minnesota. Jeffrey M. Engelmann is now at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas. Bruce N. Cuthbert is now at the National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, Maryland.

Address reprint requests to: Dr. Jeffrey M. Engelmann, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, P.O. Box 301439, Houston, TX 77030. E-mail: jmengelmann@mdanderson.org

Abstract

Negative affect is thought to be an important factor in the maintenance of cigarette smoking, and thus it is important to further develop objective measures of smoking-related emotional responses. Nonsmokers, nonabstinent smokers, and abstinent smokers participated in a cue reactivity task where eyeblink startle amplitude and startle probe P300 (P3) suppression were measured during the presentation of emotional pictures. During unpleasant pictures, the amplitude of both measures was smaller in nonabstinent smokers than in nonsmokers or abstinent smokers. P3 suppression, but not startle amplitude, was larger in abstinent smokers than in nonsmokers. Abstinence-induced increases in cigarette craving were associated with P3 suppression during tobacco-related pictures. Results suggest that tobacco abstinence increases emotional reactivity to unpleasant stimuli, which is consistent with negative reinforcement models of tobacco addiction.

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