Small effects of smoking on visual spatiotemporal processing

Kunchulia, M., Pilz, K. S. & Herzog, M. H., 4-Dec-2014, In : Scientific Reports. 4, 6 p., 7316.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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
Number of pages6
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 4-Dec-2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Adult, Female, Humans, Male, Nicotine/adverse effects, Schizophrenia/chemically induced, Schizophrenic Psychology, Smoke/adverse effects, Smoking/adverse effects, Spatio-Temporal Analysis, Tobacco/adverse effects, Vision, Ocular/drug effects, Visual Cortex/drug effects, SHINE-THROUGH, VISUOSPATIAL ATTENTION, TRANSDERMAL NICOTINE, TOBACCO WITHDRAWAL, CIGARETTE-SMOKING, WORKING-MEMORY, SCHIZOPHRENIA, SMOKERS, NONSMOKERS, PERFORMANCE

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