Nicotine withdrawal modulates frontal brain function during an affective Stroop task

Journal Article

Background Among nicotine-dependent smokers, smoking abstinence disrupts multiple cognitive and affective processes including conflict resolution and emotional information processing (EIP). However, the neurobiological basis of abstinence effects on resolving emotional interference on cognition remains largely uncharacterized. In this study, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to investigate smoking abstinence effects on emotion-cognition interactions. Methods Smokers (n=17) underwent fMRI while performing an affective Stroop task (aST) over two sessions: once following 24-h abstinence and once following smoking as usual. The aST includes trials that serially present incongruent or congruent numerical grids bracketed by neutral or negative emotional distractors and view-only emotional image trials. Statistical analyses were conducted using a statistical threshold of p<0.05 cluster corrected. Results Smoking abstinence increased Stroop blood-oxygenation-level- dependent response in the right middle frontal and rostral anterior cingulate gyri. Moreover, withdrawal-induced negative affect was associated with less activation in frontoparietal regions during negative emotional information processing; whereas, during Stroop trials, negative affect predicted greater activation in frontal regions during negative, but not neutral emotional distractor trials. Conclusion Hyperactivation in the frontal executive control network during smoking abstinence may represent a need to recruit additional executive resources to meet task demands. Moreover, abstinence-induced negative affect may disrupt cognitive control neural circuitry during EIP and place additional demands on frontal executive neural resources during cognitive demands when presented with emotionally distracting stimuli. © Springer-Verlag 2011.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Froeliger, B; Modlin, L; Wang, L; Kozink, RV; McClernon, FJ

Published Date

  • 2012

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 220 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 707 - 718

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0033-3158

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/s00213-011-2522-y