Exploring the effects of response inhibition training on cigarette-seeking behaviour
Emma Chapman, Kirstie Soar, Lynne Dawkins and John Turner
Emma Chapman The University of East London
Abstinent smokers have shown deficits in response inhibition (RI) which can predict relapse within three months.
A between subjects design was employed with four conditions (abstinent/restraint; abstinent/disinhibited; smoke/restraint; smoke/disinhibited). Subjects (N=120; Male=34; female=85 [Age range 18-60 years]) were trained to inhibit responses on the Stop Signal Task (SST). This was predicted to lead to reduced i) cigarette-seeking behaviour on a Concurrent Choice Task, ii) craving and withdrawal symptoms on the Desire to Smoke Scale and Mood and Physical Symptoms Scale. Time until next cigarette smoked outside the study was recorded in a subset of subjects (n=32), to assess actual cigarette-seeking behaviour as a pilot study.
Priming a restrained mental set on the SST led to more cautious responding with increased accuracy and longer response times but did not influence cigarette-seeking behaviour, preference for cigarettes or desire to smoke. Actual smoking behaviour was affected in a subset of subjects; those in a nicotine satiated state who received RI training did not smoke a cigarette for a longer time period. This effect of RI training on actual smoking behaviour, albeit a small sample, could indicate that cravings are not reduced by this intervention but this type of training appears to strengthen RI.
Emma Chapman completed her Psychology degree at the University of East London (UEL) in 2012, which included working on a research project looking at the effects of caffeine on executive functions using traditional measures and a novel ecologically-valid virtual reality task. This work has been submitted for publication and is under review with the journal Appetite. Emma is currently undertaking a part-time PhD at UEL exploring the effects of response inhibition training on cigarette-seeking behaviour.
Source of funding: The Research Management Team at the University of East London provided funding for this study, to allow participant remuneration.