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The effects of nicotine dependency on eye movements elicited by visual smoking cues

Ravenscroft, Elizabeth (2010) The effects of nicotine dependency on eye movements elicited by visual smoking cues. Leeds Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

Previous research has shown that smokers have attentional biases towards smoking-related cues which are related to craving and the affective and motivational valence of stimuli (Mogg, Bradley, Field & Houwer, 2003). The current study used non-smokers (N=23), low dependent smokers (N=15) and heavily dependent smokers (N=15), to explore the effects of nicotine dependency on attentional biases, as indicated by eye movements (EM), towards smoking related cues. EMs were measured, using an eye tracking device, to smoking related and control cues contained within images when the images were presented simultaneously. The number of fixations, gaze duration and time to first fixation were analysed. The results revealed that smokers with high levels of nicotine dependence showed a significantly greater attentional bias, as indicated by observation length, and attended more, as indicated by fixation count, to smoking-related cues than non-smokers. Moreover, smokers with low levels of nicotine dependence showed an enhanced attentional bias, and attended more to smoking-related cues than non-smokers. This indicates that attentional biases for drug-related cues are functionally related to incentive processes, with severity of nicotine dependence being a positive predictor of such biases.

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