An electrophysiological dissociation of craving and stimulus-dependent attentional capture in smokers.
It has been suggested that over the course of an addiction, addiction-related stimuli become highly salient in the environment, thereby capturing an addict's attention. To assess these effects neurally in smokers, and how they interact with craving, we recorded electroencephalography (EEG) in two sessions: one in which participants had just smoked (non-craving), and one in which they had abstained from smoking for 3 h (craving). In both sessions, participants performed a visual-search task in which two colored squares were presented to the left and right of fixation, with one color being the target to which they should shift attention and discriminate the locations of two missing corners. Task-irrelevant images, both smoking-related and non-smoking-related, were embedded in both squares, enabling the shift of spatial attention to the target to be examined as a function of the addiction-related image being present or absent in the target, the distractor, or both. Behaviorally, participants were slower to respond to targets containing a smoking-related image. Furthermore, when the target contained a smoking-related image, the neural responses indicated that attention had been shifted less strongly to the target; when the distractor contained a smoking-related image, the shift of attention to the contralateral target was stronger. These effects occurred independently of craving and suggest that participants were actively avoiding the smoking-related images. Together, these results provide an electrophysiological dissociation between addiction-related visual-stimulus processing and the neural activity associated with craving.
Donohue, SE; Woldorff, MG; Hopf, J-M; Harris, JA; Heinze, H-J; Schoenfeld, MA
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