Smoking Reduces Conflict-Related Anterior Cingulate Activity in Abstinent Cigarette Smokers Performing a Stroop Task

Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.
Neuropsychopharmacology: official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (Impact Factor: 7.83). 11/2009; 35(3):775-82. DOI: 10.1038/npp.2009.186
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Prior research suggests that abrupt initiation of abstinence from cigarette smoking reduces neural cognitive efficiency. When cognitive efficiency is high, processing speed and accuracy are maximized with minimal allocation of cognitive resources. The study presented here tested the effects of resumption of smoking on cognitive response conflict after overnight abstinence from smoking, hypothesizing that smoking would enhance cognitive efficiency. Twenty paid research volunteers who were chronic cigarette smokers abstained from smoking overnight (>12 h) before undergoing fMRI while performing a color-word Stroop task during two separate test sessions: one that did not include smoking before testing and another one that did. Statistical analyses were performed by modeling the Stroop effect (incongruent >congruent) BOLD response within a collection of a priori regions of interest that have consistently been associated with cognitive control. Behavioral assessment alone did not reveal any significant differences in the Stroop effect between the two sessions. BOLD activations, however, indicated that in the right anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), smokers had significantly less task-related activity following smoking (p<0.02). In contrast, the right middle frontal gyrus exhibited significantly greater activity after smoking as compared to the no-smoking session (p<0.003). Exaggerated neural activity in the ACC during nicotine withdrawal may reflect a compensatory mechanism by which cognitive control networks expend excessive energy to support selective attention processes. Resumption of smoking may enhance cognitive control in smokers, involving a reduction in ACC response conflict activity together with improvement in conflict resolution involving the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.

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    • "On the basis of previous reports of the neuronal underpinnings of smoking addiction (Canterberry et al., 2013; Hanlon et al., 2013; Li et al., 2013; Hartwell et al., 2011; Azizian et al., 2009; Brody et al., 2007; Smolka et al., 2006; Due et al., 2002; Ernst et al., 2001), bilateral ACC, medial pFC, and OFC areas were defined as the anterior ROIs (ROIs1), and bilateral posterior cingulate cortex and precuneus areas were defined as the posterior ROIs (ROIs2; Table 2). The anterior part of the brain (i.e., ROIs1) has been widely reported as a cigarette-craving-related brain region (Lee, Kim, & Kim, 2012; Hartwell et al., 2011; Azizian et al., 2009; Brody et al., 2007; Due et al., 2002) and has been utilized in previous rtfMRI studies on cigarette craving/ resistance (Canterberry et al., 2013; Hanlon et al., 2013; Li et al., 2013). However, the involvement of the posterior part of the brain (i.e., ROIs2) in cigarette craving is unclear (Hartwell et al., 2011; Brody et al., 2007). "
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    ABSTRACT: Real-time fMRI (rtfMRI) neurofeedback (NF) facilitates volitional control over brain activity and the modulation of associated mental functions. The NF signals of traditional rtfMRI-NF studies predominantly reflect neuronal activity within ROIs. In this study, we describe a novel rtfMRI-NF approach that includes a functional connectivity (FC) component in the NF signal (FC-added rtfMRI-NF). We estimated the efficacy of the FC-added rtfMRI-NF method by applying it to nicotine-dependent heavy smokers in an effort to reduce cigarette craving. ACC and medial pFC as well as the posterior cingulate cortex and precuneus are associated with cigarette craving and were chosen as ROIs. Fourteen heavy smokers were randomly assigned to receive one of two types of NF: traditional activity-based rtfMRI-NF or FC-added rtfMRI-NF. Participants received rtfMRI-NF training during two separate visits after overnight smoking cessation, and cigarette craving score was assessed. The FC-added rtfMRI-NF resulted in greater neuronal activity and increased FC between the targeted ROIs than the traditional activity-based rtfMRI-NF and resulted in lower craving score. In the FC-added rtfMRI-NF condition, the average of neuronal activity and FC was tightly associated with craving score (Bonferroni-corrected p = .028). However, in the activity-based rtfMRI-NF condition, no association was detected (uncorrected p > .081). Non-rtfMRI data analysis also showed enhanced neuronal activity and FC with FC-added NF than with activity-based NF. These results demonstrate that FC-added rtfMRI-NF facilitates greater volitional control over brain activity and connectivity and greater modulation of mental function than activity-based rtfMRI-NF.
    Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 03/2015; DOI:10.1162/jocn_a_00802 · 4.69 Impact Factor
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    • "The experimental task was a modified version of a face viewing task previously shown to increase activation in brain regions underlying emotion processing [26]; see Figure 1. In brief, neutral and negative (angry and fearful) faces [27] were presented in a dynamic (i.e., morphed) fashion. The morphing caused them to appear to change from neutral to negative in the same actor (emotion morph) or from one neutral identity to another neutral identity (identity morph). "
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    ABSTRACT: There is evidence that individuals with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may smoke in part to regulate negative affect. This pilot fMRI study examined the effects of nicotine on emotional information processing in smokers with and without PTSD. Across groups, nicotine increased brain activation in response to fearful/angry faces (compared to neutral faces) in ventral caudate. Patch x Group interactions were observed in brain regions involved in emotional and facial feature processing. These preliminary findings suggest that nicotine differentially modulates negative information processing in PTSD and non-PTSD smokers.
    Advances in Pharmacological Sciences 06/2012; 2012:265724. DOI:10.1155/2012/265724
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    • "More recently, Azizian and colleagues demonstrated that smoking reduced conflict-related anterior cingulated activity in abstinent cigarette smokers during performing a stroop task. The study also suggested that exaggerated neural activity in the ACC during nicotine withdrawal may reflect a compensatory mechanism by which cognitive control networks expend excessive energy to support selective attention processes (Azizian et al. 2010). Hong and colleagues reported that restingstate dorsal ACC-striatum functional connectivity may serve as a circuit-level biomarker for nicotine addiction, and the development of new therapeutic agents aiming to enhance the d ACC-striatum functional pathways may be effective for nicotine addiction treatment (Hong et al. 2010). "
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    ABSTRACT: Numerous research groups are now using analysis of blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) results and relaying back information about regional activity in their brains to participants in the scanner in 'real time'. In this study, we explored the feasibility of self-regulation of frontal cortical activation using real-time fMRI (rtfMRI) neurofeedback in nicotine-dependent cigarette smokers during exposure to smoking cues. Ten cigarette smokers were shown smoking-related visual cues in a 3 Tesla MRI scanner to induce their nicotine craving. Participants were instructed to modify their craving using rtfMRI feedback with two different approaches. In a 'reduce craving' paradigm, participants were instructed to 'reduce' their craving, and decrease the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) activity. In a separate 'increase resistance' paradigm, participants were asked to increase their resistance to craving and to increase middle prefrontal cortex (mPFC) activity. We found that participants were able to significantly reduce the BOLD signal in the ACC during the 'reduce craving' task (P = 0.028). There was a significant correlation between decreased ACC activation and reduced craving ratings during the 'reduce craving' session (P = 0.011). In contrast, there was no modulation of the BOLD signal in mPFC during the 'increase resistance' session. These preliminary results suggest that some smokers may be able to use neurofeedback via rtfMRI to voluntarily regulate ACC activation and temporarily reduce smoking cue-induced craving. Further research is needed to determine the optimal parameters of neurofeedback rtfMRI, and whether it might eventually become a therapeutic tool for nicotine dependence.
    Addiction Biology 03/2012; 18(4). DOI:10.1111/j.1369-1600.2012.00449.x · 5.93 Impact Factor
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