Pharmacology, biochemistry, and behavior

7 mg nicotine patch fails to enhance P300 neural indices of cognitive control among nonsmokers.

PMID 25218552


Nicotine administration facilitates and nicotine deprivation reduces cognitive control in smokers. Importantly, nicotine effects on cognition may reinforce smoking behavior, especially among individuals who have cognitive deficits. The target P300 (P3b) and distracter P300 (P3a) are well-validated electrocortical markers of attention- and memory-related cognitive control processes. Nicotine deprivation has been shown to reduce P3b/P3a amplitudes. The current study sought to examine the direct effects of nicotine on P3b/P3a amplitudes among nonsmokers. It was hypothesized that nicotine would increase P3b and P3a amplitudes, and that individuals lower on trait cognitive control would show greater nicotine-induced increases. 78 nonsmokers attended two separate experimental sessions, during which they performed the P3b/P3a evoking 3-stimulus oddball task following nicotine (7-mg) or placebo patch administration. Nicotine did not enhance P3b or P3a amplitudes, nor did trait cognitive control moderate the influence of nicotine on these indices. Nicotine-induced changes in P3 amplitudes may be limited to nicotine deprivation and/or nonsmokers may be fundamentally different with respect to the influence of nicotine on P3b/P3a indices of cognitive control. Directions for future research that may further examine the effects of nicotine on P3b/P3a independent of withdrawal reversal are discussed.