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Title: Assessing the effects of smoking-related stimuli on cognitive processing in smokers
Author: Mullings, Emma Louise
ISNI:       0000 0004 2718 6802
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2011
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Research shows that smokers compared to non-smokers preferentially attend to smoking-related stimuli relative to neutral stimuli, referred to as cognitive bias. The hallmark measures employed to assess cognitive bias are the visual probe and modified Stroop tasks. Using these tasks, Experiment 1 established a model of cognitive bias by comparing non- smokers (NS), weekly smokers (WS) and daily smokers (DS). DS on the visual probe task exhibited cognitive bias to smoking-related pictures, suggesting bias operates as a linear function of nicotine dependence. Following this, the effects of a nicotine prime (Experiment 2) and alcohol prime (Experiment 3) on cognitive bias and cigarette craving was assessed in abstinent WS and DS. No differences were indicated after nicotine administration on either task. Craving data indicated no immediate effects of nicotine administration, although post cue reactivity data indicated increases in craving for DS receiving nicotine. After alcohol administration, measures of cognitive bias indicated a difference between groups suggesting alcohol increases the incentive value of smoking-related stimuli in abstinent DS. No evidence was indicated to suggest alcohol consumption potentiates cigarette craving. The inconsistent pattern of results presented in this thesis and also in the wider nicotine literature lead to an assessment of the internal reliability of the visual probe and modified Stroop tasks using data generated from Experiments 1, 2 and 3. This suggested these measures may not be reliable. Consequently, Experiment 5 assessed cognitive bias using two novel tasks, the smoking N- back and the smoking disengagement tasks. The outcome of this experiment however, suggests working memory and disengagement processes are not fundamental to the generation of cognitive bias in smokers. This thesis highlights the need to systematically assess the psychometric properties of hallmark cognitive tasks used in the addiction literature and to identify alternative and appropriate tasks for the measurement of cognitive bias in smokers.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available