Neural substrates of attentional bias for smoking-related cues: an FMRI study.
ABSTRACT: Attentional bias for drug-related stimuli, as measured by emotional Stroop (ES) tasks, is predictive of treatment outcomes for tobacco smoking and other abused drugs. Characterizing relationships between smoking-related attentional bias and brain reactivity to smoking images may help in identifying neural substrates critical to relapse vulnerability. To this end, we investigated putative relationships between interference effects in an offline smoking ES task and functional MRI (fMRI) measures of brain reactivity to smoking vs neutral images in women smokers. Positive correlations were found between attentional bias and reactivity to smoking images in brain areas involved in emotion, memory, interoception, and visual processing, including the amygdala, hippocampus, parahippocampal gyrus, insula, and occipital cortex. These findings suggest that smokers with elevated attentional biases to smoking-related stimuli may more readily shift attention away from other external stimuli and toward smoking stimuli-induced internal states and emotional memories. Such attentional shifts may contribute to increased interference by smoking cues, possibly increasing relapse vulnerability. Treatments capable of inhibiting shifts to drug cue-induced memories and internal states may lead to personalized tobacco dependence treatment for smokers with high attentional bias to smoking-related stimuli.
Project description:Developing the means to identify smokers at high risk for relapse could advance relapse prevention therapy. We hypothesized that functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) reactivity to smoking-related cues, measured before a quit attempt, could identify smokers with heightened relapse vulnerability.Before quitting smoking, 21 nicotine-dependent women underwent fMRI during which smoking-related and neutral images were shown. These smokers also were tested for possible attentional biases to smoking-related words using a computerized emotional Stroop (ES) task previously found to predict relapse. Smokers then made a quit attempt and were grouped based on outcomes (abstinence vs. slip: smoking > or = 1 cigarette after attaining abstinence). Prequit fMRI and ES measurements in these groups were compared.Slip subjects had heightened fMRI reactivity to smoking-related images in brain regions implicated in emotion, interoceptive awareness, and motor planning and execution. Insula and dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) reactivity induced by smoking images correlated with an attentional bias to smoking-related words. A discriminant analysis of ES and fMRI data predicted outcomes with 79% accuracy. Additionally, smokers who slipped had decreased fMRI functional connectivity between an insula-containing network and brain regions involved in cognitive control, including the dACC and dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex, possibly reflecting reduced top-down control of cue-induced emotions.These findings suggest that the insula and dACC are important substrates of smoking relapse vulnerability. The data also suggest that relapse-vulnerable smokers can be identified before quit attempts, which could enable personalized treatment, improve tobacco-dependence treatment outcomes, and reduce smoking-related morbidity and mortality.
Project description:While it is well documented that substance users exhibit attentional bias toward addiction-related stimuli, the exact mechanism remains unclear.To differentiate between distinct aspects of attentional allocation in the smoking-cue attentional bias observed in smokers.Active smokers (AS) and non-smoking controls completed spatial cueing tasks with pairs of smoking and neutral pictorial cues to measure attentional capture, and an attentional blink task with either a smoking or neutral image appearing behind the first target (T1) to measure aspects of attention separate from capture. In addition, we tested groups of sports enthusiasts, and non-enthusiasts in corresponding tasks replacing smoking images with sports-related images to address the possibility that effects found in the smoking study were due simply to greater stimulus familiarity.Smoking cues reflexively capture smokers' attention, as AS showed a greater bias toward smoking cues in short stimulus-onset asynchrony (SOA; the time between the onset of two stimuli) trials, but not in trials with a longer SOA. These effects represent a facilitation of responding to smoking- versus neutral-cued targets, and were absent in the sports control task. The attentional blink effects were similar in the smoking- and sports-cue experiments: the special T1 resulted in better detection of the second target for the smokers and sports enthusiasts.Stimulus familiarity may contribute to some aspects of attentional bias in regular nicotine users, but selective quick capture of attention by smoking cues may be nicotine-habit specific.
Project description:African American cigarette smokers have lower rates of cessation than Whites and live in communities with a higher number of tobacco advertisements. Exposure to smoking cues may promote smoking and undermine cessation. It may be possible to reduce attention to smoking cues ("attentional bias"). In this study, we investigated the effect of attentional retraining (AR) on attentional bias and smoking in African American smokers. Nontreatment- seeking African American smokers (N = 64) were randomly assigned to an AR or control condition. Participants were given a mobile device for 2 weeks and prompted to complete up to 3 AR (or control) trainings per day. Participants completed assessments of attentional bias, craving, and smoking both in the lab and in the field. Participants in the AR and control conditions completed an average of 29.07 AR (SD = 12.48) and 30.61 control training tasks (SD = 13.07), respectively. AR reduced attentional bias assessed in the laboratory, F(1, 126) = 9.20, p = .003, and field, F(1, 374) = 6.18, p = .01. This effect generalized to new stimuli, but not to new tasks. AR did not significantly reduce craving or biological measures of smoking. Smoking assessed on the mobile device declined over days in the AR group, F(1, 26) = 10.95, p = .003, but not in the control group, F(1, 27) = 0.02, p = .89. Two weeks of AR administered on a mobile device reduced attentional bias in African American smokers and had mixed effects on smoking. (PsycINFO Database Record
Project description:Cigarette-dependent smokers automatically and involuntarily orient attention toward smoking cues (SCs). This attentional bias is clinically significant, as it may contribute to relapse. Thus, identifying neural and genetic correlates of attentional bias is critical for improving interventions. Our previous studies show that the dopamine transporter (DAT) SLC6A3 genotype exerts profound effects on limbic responses to SCs. One potential mechanism underlying these effects is greater attentional bias for SCs. Here, we explored associations between attentional bias for SCs and neural responses to SCs among 'sated' smokers genotyped for the SLC6A3 polymorphism. Pseudo-continuous arterial spin-labeled perfusion functional magnetic resonance imaging images were acquired during SC exposure in 35 smokers genotyped for the SLC6A3 variable number of tandem repeats polymorphism (n?=?16, 9-repeats; n?=?19, 10/10-repeats). Participants completed a visual dot-probe attentional bias task, which contained pictures of smoking and non-smoking pictures, to examine whether genetic variation in DAT influences attentional bias and to investigate relationships between attentional bias and neural responses to SCs. Although attentional bias to smoking pictures was not significantly different between 9-repeats and 10/10-repeats, 9-repeats showed a positive correlation between attentional bias and increased SC-induced brain activity in the amygdala, whereas 10/10-repeats showed an inverse correlation in the medial orbitofrontal cortex (mOFC). In group comparisons, 9-repeats exhibited positive correlations between attentional bias and SCs in the mOFC and amygdala, relative to 10/10-repeats. Findings suggest that genetic variation in the DAT gene influences brain responses associated with attentional bias; thus, providing additional support for a SC-vulnerable endophenotype.
Project description:Tobacco smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the developed world. Identifying risk factors for smoking may lead to more effective treatments. Genome wide association studies revealed a relationship between development of nicotine dependence and a single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP, rs16969968) of the nicotine acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) alpha-5 subunit gene (CHRNA5). The relationship between this SNP and other factors contributing to smoking behavior such as smoking cue reactivity is unclear.We assessed the role of rs16969968 on brain functional MRI (fMRI) reactivity to smoking cues by studying nicotine dependent women with the nicotine dependence 'risk' allele (A allele, N=14) and without the 'risk' allele (G/G smokers, N=10). Nicotine dependence severity, as assessed with the Fagerstrom test for nicotine dependence, smoking pack-years, and expired carbon monoxide levels, were equivalent in these groups.We observed a group difference in fMRI reactivity; women without the A allele (G/G smokers) showed greater fMRI reactivity to smoking images in brain areas related to memory and habitual behavior such as the hippocampus and dorsal striatum.Our finding suggests that nicotine-dependent smokers lacking the rs16969968 A allele are more likely to recall smoking-related memories and engage in habitual responding to smoking cues than A allele smokers. Although more studies are necessary to determine the mechanism underlying and significance of this cue reactivity difference, these data suggest that smokers may develop and remain nicotine dependent due to different factors including genetics and cue reactivity. This finding may have implications for personalizing smoking treatment.
Project description:Smoking leads to the development of automatic tendencies that promote approach behavior toward smoking-related stimuli which in turn may maintain addictive behavior. The present study examined whether automatic approach tendencies toward smoking-related stimuli can be measured by using an adapted version of the Approach-Avoidance Task (AAT). Given that progression of addictive behavior has been associated with a decreased reactivity of the brain reward system for stimuli signaling natural rewards, we also used the AAT to measure approach behavior toward natural rewarding stimuli in smokers. During the AAT, 92 smokers and 51 non-smokers viewed smoking-related vs. non-smoking-related pictures and pictures of natural rewards (i.e. highly palatable food) vs. neutral pictures. They were instructed to ignore image content and to respond to picture orientation by either pulling or pushing a joystick. Within-group comparisons revealed that smokers showed an automatic approach bias exclusively for smoking-related pictures. Contrary to our expectations, there was no difference in smokers' and non-smokers' approach bias for nicotine-related stimuli, indicating that non-smokers also showed approach tendencies for this picture category. Yet, in contrast to non-smokers, smokers did not show an approach bias for food-related pictures. Moreover, self-reported smoking attitude could not predict approach-avoidance behavior toward nicotine-related pictures in smokers or non-smokers. Our findings indicate that the AAT is suited for measuring smoking-related approach tendencies in smokers. Furthermore, we provide evidence for a diminished approach tendency toward food-related stimuli in smokers, suggesting a decreased sensitivity to natural rewards in the course of nicotine addiction. Our results indicate that in contrast to similar studies conducted in alcohol, cannabis and heroin users, the AAT might only be partially suited for measuring smoking-related approach tendencies in smokers. Nevertheless, our findings are of special importance for current etiological models and smoking cessation programs aimed at modifying nicotine-related approach tendencies in the context of a nicotine addiction.
Project description:Dopamine (DA) modulates the response of the amygdala. However, the relation between dopaminergic neurotransmission in striatal and extrastriatal brain regions and amygdala reactivity to affective stimuli has not yet been established. To address this issue, we measured DA D2/D3 receptor (DRD2/3) availability in twenty-eight healthy men (nicotine-dependent smokers and never-smokers) using positron emission tomography with [18F]fallypride. In the same group of participants, amygdala response to unpleasant visual stimuli was determined using blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) functional magnetic resonance imaging. The effects of DRD2/3 availability in emotion-related brain regions and nicotine dependence on amygdala response to unpleasant stimuli were examined by multiple regression analysis. We observed enhanced prefrontal DRD2/3 availability in those individuals with higher amygdala response to unpleasant stimuli. As compared to never-smokers, smokers showed an attenuated amygdala BOLD response to unpleasant stimuli. Thus, individuals with high prefrontal DRD2/3 availability may be more responsive toward aversive and stressful information. Through this mechanism, dopaminergic neurotransmission might influence vulnerability for affective and anxiety disorders. Neuronal reactivity to unpleasant stimuli seems to be reduced by smoking. This observation could explain increased smoking rates in individuals with mental disorders.
Project description:<h4>Introduction</h4>Black cigarette smokers have lower rates of smoking cessation compared with Whites. However, the mechanisms underlying these differences are not clear. Many Blacks live in communities saturated by tobacco advertisements. These cue-rich environments may undermine cessation attempts by provoking smoking. Moreover, attentional bias to smoking cues (attention capture by smoking cues) has been linked to lower cessation outcomes. Cessation attempts among Blacks may be compromised by attentional bias to smoking cues and a cue-rich environment.<h4>Method</h4>Attention to smoking cues in Black and White smokers was examined in 2 studies. In both studies, assessments were completed during 2 laboratory visits: a nonabstinent session and an abstinent session. In study 1, nontreatment-seeking smokers (99 Whites, 104 Blacks) completed the Subjective Attentional Bias Questionnaire (SABQ; a self-report measure of attention to cues) and the Smoking Stroop task (a reaction time measure of attentional bias to smoking cues). In study 2, 110 White and 74 Black treatment-seeking smokers completed these assessments and attempted to quit.<h4>Results</h4>In study 1, Blacks reported higher ratings than Whites on the SABQ (p = .005). In study 2, Blacks also reported higher ratings than Whites on the SABQ (p = .003). In study 2, Blacks had lower biochemical-verified point prevalence abstinence than Whites, and the between-race difference in outcome was partially mediated by SABQ ratings.<h4>Conclusion</h4>Blacks reported greater attention to smoking cues than Whites, possibly due to between-race differences in environments. Greater attention to smoking cues may undermine cessation attempts.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Observational studies have shown that attentional bias for smoking-related cues is associated with increased craving and relapse. Laboratory experiments have shown that manipulating attentional bias may change craving. Interventions to reduce attentional bias could reduce relapse in smokers seeking to quit. We report a clinical trial of attentional retraining in treatment-seeking smokers. METHODS:This was a double-blind randomised controlled trial that took place in UK smoking cessation clinics. Smokers interested in quitting were randomised to five weekly sessions of attentional retraining (N=60) or placebo training (N = 58) using a modified visual probe task from one week prior to quit day. Both groups received 21 mg nicotine patches (from quit day onwards) and behavioural support. Primary outcomes included change in attentional bias reaction times four weeks after quit day on the visual probe task and craving measured weekly using the Mood and Physical Symptoms Scale. Secondary outcomes were changes in withdrawal symptoms, time to first lapse and prolonged abstinence. RESULTS:No attentional bias towards smoking cues was found in the sample at baseline (mean difference = 3 ms, 95% CI = -2, 9). Post-training bias was not significantly lower in the retraining group compared with the placebo group (mean difference = -9 ms, 95% CI = -20, 2). There was no difference between groups in change in craving (p = 0.89) and prolonged abstinence at four weeks (risk ratio = 1.00, 95% CI = 0.70, 1.43). CONCLUSIONS:Taken with one other trial, there appears to be no effect from clinic-based attentional retraining using the visual probe task. Attentional retraining conducted out of clinic may prove more effective. CLINICAL TRIAL REGISTRATION:UK Clinical Trials ISRCTN 54375405.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Biased attention for emotional stimuli reflects vulnerability or resilience to emotional disorders. The current study examines whether the 5-HTTLPR polymorphism is associated with attentional biases for negative word stimuli. METHODS:Unmedicated, young adults with low current depression and anxiety symptoms (N=106) were genotyped for the 5-HTTLPR, including the single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs25531 in the long allele of the 5-HTTLPR. Participants then completed a standard dot-probe task that measured attentional bias toward anxiety, dysphoric, and self-esteem words. RESULTS:The L(A)L(A) allele group demonstrated an attentional bias away from negative word stimuli. This attentional bias was absent among the S/L(G) carriers. CONCLUSIONS:These findings replicate previous work and suggest that 5-HTTLPR L(A) homozygotes possess a protective attentional bias that may decrease susceptibility to depression and anxiety.