Cortical activity differs during nicotine deprivation versus satiation in heavy smokers.

Journal Article


Research suggests that nicotine deprivation among smokers is associated with lesser resting cortical activity (i.e., greater power density in theta and alpha-1 EEG bands and lesser power in beta bands). These changes in cortical activity may be indicative of withdrawal-related cognitive deficits, yet the markers of differences in cortical activity are not well-established.


The objective of the study was to clarify the EEG frequency bands affected by nicotine deprivation and assess prospective moderators.


One hundred twenty-four heavy smokers visited the laboratory on two occasions following overnight smoking/nicotine deprivation. Prior to collecting 3 min of resting EEG data, participants smoked two very low nicotine cigarettes (<0.05 mg nicotine yield) at one session and two moderate nicotine cigarettes (0.60 mg nicotine yield) at the other.


Theta and alpha-1 band (4-7 and 8-10 Hz) was greater in the very low nicotine (deprivation) relative to higher nicotine (satiation) condition. There were no condition differences in the beta-1 and beta-2 bands (14-20 and 21-30 Hz).


Greater slow wave resting EEG may serve as a reliable marker of decreased cortical activity during smoking deprivation and, in turn, of withdrawal-related deficits in cognitive functioning. This research may inform the development of adjunct strategies for smoking cessation.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Evans, DE; Sutton, SK; Oliver, JA; Drobes, DJ

Published Date

  • June 2015

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 232 / 11

Start / End Page

  • 1879 - 1885

PubMed ID

  • 25491928

Pubmed Central ID

  • 25491928

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1432-2072

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0033-3158

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/s00213-014-3821-x


  • eng