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The effects of nicotine on the cognitive processes of adolescents and adults

WCU Author/Contributor (non-WCU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Lauren Leigh Golden (Creator)
Western Carolina University (WCU )
Web Site:
David McCord

Abstract: Though much is known about the addictive properties of nicotine, much remains to be learned about its effects on various cognitive processes, especially as they might differ between adolescents and adults. The purpose of this study is to determine what effect, if any, nicotine has on attention and spatial memory, and to determine if age-related differences in the effects of nicotine exist. Based on Posner and Petersen’s model of attention, it was hypothesized that nicotine would not have an effect on the alerting network of attention, though nicotine would have a positive effect on the orienting and executive control networks of attention. Further, nicotine was expected to have a greater positive effect on the orienting and executive control networks of adolescents than adults. It was also hypothesized that nicotine would have a positive effect on spatial memory and that nicotine would also have a greater effect on spatial memory of adolescents than adults. Participants were recruited and randomly assigned to wear nicotine patches or placebo patches for four days. Posttest attention and spatial memory data were analyzed to determine if there were differences between the nicotine and placebo groups, or the adolescents and adults. While the results appear to suggest that nicotine did not have an effect on attention or spatial memory and there was not an age-related difference in nicotine’s effects on cognition, the small sample size led to low power in all the analyses, and the effects of nicotine can not reliably be interpreted.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2009
Cognition, Nicotine
Cognition -- Effect of drugs on
Nicotine -- Physiological effect