Probing the behavioral and neurophysiological effects of acute smoking abstinence on drug and non-drug reinforcement during a cognitive task
Schlienz, Nicolas Jon
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Acute smoking abstinence is associated with an increase in the value of drug reinforcers (e.g., hypersensitivity to cigarette reinforcement), and a decrease in the value of non-drug reinforcers (e.g., hyposensitivity to money reinforcement), which may lead to smoking relapse. Research examining the effects of smoking abstinence on drug hypersensitivity and non-drug hyposensitivity, however, has typically examined these abstinence effects using behavior or neurophysiology. Seldom are each of these approaches used concurrently. The present study examined the drug hypersensitivity and non-drug hyposensitivity hypotheses following overnight smoking abstinence using behavior and both stimulus- (N200, P300) and response-locked (ERN) event-related brain potentials. The hypersensitivity and hyposensitivity hypotheses were assessed in a sample of 36 non-treatment-seeking smokers when smoking as usual and following overnight abstinence. Smokers completed a computerized cognitive task that reinforced speeded accuracy with cigarettes or money compared to a no-reinforcement control condition. Abstinence reduced task performance and the ability to monitor performance, and this finding was specific to participants with the hard reaction time deadline. Reinforcement improved stimulus processing, task performance, and the ability to monitor performance. The effects of abstinence and reinforcement were independent and did not interact, failing to support the drug hypersensitivity and non-drug hyposensitivity hypotheses during abstinence. Results add to a mixed literature base and highlight the value of an integrated behavioral and neurophysiological approach to the study of smoking abstinence and reinforcement.