Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Scientists identify brain regions where nicotine affects attention, other cognitive skills


Nicotine administration in humans is known to sharpen attention and to slightly enhance memory. Now scientists, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), have identified those areas of the brain where nicotine exerts its effects on cognitive skills.

Their findings suggest that nicotine improves attention in smokers by enhancing activation in the posterior cortical and subcortical regions of the brain--areas traditionally associated with visual attention, arousal, and motor activation. This study provides the first evidence that nicotine-induced enhancement of parietal cortex activation is associated with improved attention.

The investigators used functional MRI to visualize nicotine’s effects on the brain during a rapid visual information-processing (RVIP) task -- a task that requires sustained attention and working memory. Fifteen smokers with and without a 21- mg transdermal nicotine patch performed the RVIP task while undergoing MRI screening. The subjects performed the RVIP task twice--once with a placebo patch and once with a nicotine patch--and were scanned during each session. They smoked their last cigarette 15 minutes before performing the RVIP task.

When smokers were given a placebo patch for the first scan and a nicotine patch for the second scan, there was improvement in task performance between the two scans. When smokers were given a nicotine patch for the first scan and a placebo patch for the second scan, there was no difference in their performance, suggesting that nicotine and practice interact.

Study findings also suggest that nicotine helps focus attention on task demands by shifting cognitive resources from less "used" parts of the brain to regions required for task performance.

What it means: This study adds to the understanding of the effects of nicotine on the brain. Such understanding helps explain both nicotine’s addictive properties and potential therapeutic applications.

Dr. Elliot A. Stein, Neuroimaging Research Branch, Intramural Research Program, NIDA, and colleagues from the Medical College of Wisconsin and the Institute of Psychiatry in London published the study in the October 24, 2002 issue of Neuron.

Contact: Michelle Person

Michelle Person | EurekAlert!

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Rutgers-led innovation could spur faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing
14.02.2018 | Rutgers University

nachricht New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

A new kind of quantum bits in two dimensions

19.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Scientists have a new way to gauge the growth of nanowires

19.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>