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      The Attentional Bias in Current and Former Smokers


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          Attentional bias has been defined as the propensity of a person to allocate selective attention automatically to salient cues (Field and Powell, 2007). In the case of smoking, this bias implies that smokers are implicitly attracted by smoking-related stimuli, which produce behavioral, memory, and emotional effects (Volkow et al., 2006; Giardini et al., 2009). In more detail, scientific evidence pointed out that smoking is strongly supported by attentional bias that activates craving and urgency to smoke a cigarette. However, poor and conflicting data are available regarding the role of this cognitive bias on former smokers. The main aim of this study is to explore the occurrence of the attentional bias on of both current and former smokers, also with the aim to identify associations with behavioral, psychological and cognitive characteristic of participants. We collected data on 245 current, volunteers (male 50.6%; female 49.4%) aged 54.81 (SD = 14.352, range = 18–63), divided in current smokers (98), former smokers (102) and non-smokers (45). A combination of neuropsychology tests (Emotional Smoke Stroop Task and Go/no-Go task), and standardized questionnaires [Behavioral Inhibition System-Behavioral Approach System (BIS-BAS), Fagerström Test for Nicotine Dependence (FTND), Barratt Impulsiveness Scale, Motivational questionnaire] were used to assess the attentional bias, psychological variables, and smoking-related characteristics. Responses at the Emotional Smoke Stroop task revealed that current and former smokers are actually slower than non-smokers are when facing smoking cues, while performances at other Stroop conditions and at the Go/no-Go task are not statistically different. These results confirmed the occurrence of the attentional bias in current smokers, and above all points out that the same effect is present in former smokers. We found only small and selective correlations between attentional bias and psychological variables (e.g., impulsiveness and inhibition). In particular, impulsivity is not directly associated with the AB intensity. Also, smoking characteristics (e.g., years of smoking and dependence level) and the length of the period of abstinence do not seem to modulate implicit cognition of smoking cue. Our data support the idea that the attentional bias may be considered relevant in sustaining smoking and favoring relapse.

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          The neural basis of drug craving: an incentive-sensitization theory of addiction.

          This paper presents a biopsychological theory of drug addiction, the 'Incentive-Sensitization Theory'. The theory addresses three fundamental questions. The first is: why do addicts crave drugs? That is, what is the psychological and neurobiological basis of drug craving? The second is: why does drug craving persist even after long periods of abstinence? The third is whether 'wanting' drugs (drug craving) is attributable to 'liking' drugs (to the subjective pleasurable effects of drugs)? The theory posits the following. (1) Addictive drugs share the ability to enhance mesotelencephalic dopamine neurotransmission. (2) One psychological function of this neural system is to attribute 'incentive salience' to the perception and mental representation of events associated with activation of the system. Incentive salience is a psychological process that transforms the perception of stimuli, imbuing them with salience, making them attractive, 'wanted', incentive stimuli. (3) In some individuals the repeated use of addictive drugs produces incremental neuroadaptations in this neural system, rendering it increasingly and perhaps permanently, hypersensitive ('sensitized') to drugs and drug-associated stimuli. The sensitization of dopamine systems is gated by associative learning, which causes excessive incentive salience to be attributed to the act of drug taking and to stimuli associated with drug taking. It is specifically the sensitization of incentive salience, therefore, that transforms ordinary 'wanting' into excessive drug craving. (4) It is further proposed that sensitization of the neural systems responsible for incentive salience ('for wanting') can occur independently of changes in neural systems that mediate the subjective pleasurable effects of drugs (drug 'liking') and of neural systems that mediate withdrawal. Thus, sensitization of incentive salience can produce addictive behavior (compulsive drug seeking and drug taking) even if the expectation of drug pleasure or the aversive properties of withdrawal are diminished and even in the face of strong disincentives, including the loss of reputation, job, home and family. We review evidence for this view of addiction and discuss its implications for understanding the psychology and neurobiology of addiction.
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            Attentional bias in addictive behaviors: a review of its development, causes, and consequences.

            A wealth of research from the past two decades shows that addictive behaviors are characterized by attentional biases for substance-related stimuli. We review the relevant evidence and present an integration of existing theoretical models to explain the development, causes, and consequences of addiction-related attentional biases. We suggest that through classical conditioning, substance-related stimuli elicit the expectancy of substance availability, and this expectancy causes both attentional bias for substance-related stimuli and subjective craving. Furthermore, attentional bias and craving have a mutual excitatory relationship such that increases in one lead to increases in the other, a process that is likely to result in substance self-administration. Cognitive avoidance strategies, impulsivity, and impaired inhibitory control appear to influence the strength of attentional biases and subjective craving. However, some measures of attentional bias, particularly the addiction Stroop, might reflect multiple underlying processes, so results need to be interpreted cautiously. We make several predictions that require testing in future research, and we discuss implications for the treatment of addictive behaviors.
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              Addiction motivation reformulated: an affective processing model of negative reinforcement.

              This article offers a reformulation of the negative reinforcement model of drug addiction and proposes that the escape and avoidance of negative affect is the prepotent motive for addictive drug use. The authors posit that negative affect is the motivational core of the withdrawal syndrome and argue that, through repeated cycles of drug use and withdrawal, addicted organisms learn to detect interoceptive cues of negative affect preconsciously. Thus, the motivational basis of much drug use is opaque and tends not to reflect cognitive control. When either stressors or abstinence causes negative affect to grow and enter consciousness, increasing negative affect biases information processing in ways that promote renewed drug administration. After explicating their model, the authors address previous critiques of negative reinforcement models in light of their reformulation and review predictions generated by their model.

                Author and article information

                Front Behav Neurosci
                Front Behav Neurosci
                Front. Behav. Neurosci.
                Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                10 July 2019
                : 13
                : 154
                [1] 1Department of Biomedical and Clinical Sciences (DIBIC), Luigi Sacco, University of Milan , Milan, Italy
                [2] 2Applied Research Division for Cognitive and Psychological Science, European Institute of Oncology (IEO), IRCSS , Milan, Italy
                [3] 3Department of Philosophy, University of Milan , Milan, Italy
                [4] 4Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, European Institute of Oncology (IEO), IRCSS , Milan, Italy
                [5] 5Department of Oncology and Emato-Oncology (DIPO), University of Milan , Milan, Italy
                [6] 6Division of Thoracic and General Surgery, Humanitas Research Hospital , Rozzano, Italy
                Author notes

                Edited by: Liana Fattore, Italian National Research Council (CNR), Italy

                Reviewed by: Salvatore Campanella, Free University of Brussels, Belgium; Theodora Duka, University of Sussex, United Kingdom

                *Correspondence: Claudio Lucchiari claudio.lucchiari@ 123456unimi.it
                Copyright © 2019 Masiero, Lucchiari, Maisonneuve, Pravettoni, Veronesi and Mazzocco.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                : 18 January 2019
                : 24 June 2019
                Page count
                Figures: 1, Tables: 4, Equations: 0, References: 98, Pages: 11, Words: 9604
                Original Research

                cigarette smoking,attentional bias,former smokers,implicit cognition,impulsiveness,inhibition


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