Small effects of smoking on visual spatiotemporal processing

Marina Kunchulia, Karin Stefanie Pilz, MH Herzog

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Nicotine is an important stimulant that is involved in modulating many neuronal processes, including those related to vision. Nicotine is also thought to play a key role in schizophrenia: A genetic variation of the cholinergic nicotine receptor gene, alpha-7 subunit (CHRNA7) has been shown to be associated with stronger backward masking deficits in schizophrenic patients. In this study, we tested visual backward masking in healthy smokers and non-smokers to further understand the effects of nicotine on spatiotemporal vision. In the first study, we tested 48 participants, a group of non-smokers (n = 12) and three groups of regular smokers that were either nicotine deprived (n = 12), non-deprived (n = 12) or deprived but were allowed to smoke a cigarette directly before the start of the experiment (n = 12). Performance was similar across groups, except for some small negative effects in nicotine-deprived participants. In the second study, we compared backward masking performance between regular smokers and non-smokers for older (n = 37, 13 smokers) and younger (n = 67, 21 smokers) adults. Older adults performed generally worse than younger adults but there were no significant differences in performance between smokers and non-smokers. Taken together, these findings indicate that nicotine has no long-term negative effects on visual spatiotemporal processing as determined by visual backward masking.
Original languageEnglish
Article number7316
JournalScientific Reports
Volume4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 Dec 2014

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