Acoustic startle and prepulse inhibition predict smoking lapse in posttraumatic stress disorder.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Most smokers who attempt to quit lapse within the first week and are ultimately unsuccessful in their quit attempt. Nicotine withdrawal exacerbates cognitive and attentional problems and may be one factor in smoking relapse. The startle reflex response and prepulse inhibition (PPI) of the response are sensitive to arousal and early attentional dysregulation. The current study examined whether startle response and PPI are related to early smoking lapse, and if this differs in people with and without posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Participants with (N = 34) and without (N = 57) PTSD completed a startle reflex and PPI assessment during (1) ad lib smoking (2) on the first day of abstinence during a quit attempt. Most (88%) participants lapsed within the first week of the quit attempt. PTSD status predicted shorter time to lapse. Larger startle magnitude and greater PPI predicted a longer duration before smoking lapse. When diagnostic groups were examined separately, greater PPI predicted a longer successful quit attempt only in participants with a PTSD diagnosis. The startle reflex response and PPI may provide an objective, neurophysiological evaluation of regulation of arousal and early attentional processes by nicotine, which are important factors in smoking cessation success.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Vrana, SR; Calhoun, PS; Dennis, MF; Kirby, AC; Beckham, JC

Published Date

  • October 2015

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 29 / 10

Start / End Page

  • 1070 - 1076

PubMed ID

  • 26253620

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC4586071

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1461-7285

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1177/0269881115598319


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States