Enhanced corticobulbar excitability in chronic smokers during visual exposure to cigarette smoking cues

Vicario, Carmelo M., Komeilipoor, Naeem, Cesari, Paola, Rafal, Robert D. and Nitsche, Michael A. (2014) Enhanced corticobulbar excitability in chronic smokers during visual exposure to cigarette smoking cues. Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, 39 4: 232-238. doi:10.1503/jpn.130086

Author Vicario, Carmelo M.
Komeilipoor, Naeem
Cesari, Paola
Rafal, Robert D.
Nitsche, Michael A.
Title Enhanced corticobulbar excitability in chronic smokers during visual exposure to cigarette smoking cues
Journal name Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1488-2434
Publication date 2014-07
Year available 2014
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1503/jpn.130086
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 39
Issue 4
Start page 232
End page 238
Total pages 7
Place of publication Ottawa, ON, Canada
Publisher Canadian Medical Association
Collection year 2015
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Background: Neuroimaging studies of chronic smokers report altered activity of several neural regions involved in the processing of rewarding outcomes. Neuroanatomical evidence suggests that these regions are directly connected to the tongue muscle through the corticobulbar pathways. Accordingly, we examined whether corticobulbar excitability might be considered a somatic marker for nicotine craving.

Methods: We compared motor-evoked potential (MEP) amplitudes recorded from the tongue and the extensor carpi radialis (control muscle) of chronic smokers under drug withdrawal and intake conditions as well as a nonsmoker group. All participants were tested during passive exposure to pictures showing a smoking cue or a meaningless stimulus. In the intake condition, chronic smokers were asked to smoke a real cigarette (CSn: group 1) or a placebo (CSp: group 2).

Results: Results show that MEP amplitudes recorded from the tongues of participants in the CSn and CSp groups under the withdrawal condition were selectively enhanced during exposure to a smoking cue. However, this effect on tongue MEP amplitudes disappeared in the intake condition for both the CSn and CSp groups.

Limitations: Limitations include the fact that the study was conducted in 2 different laboratories, the small sample size, the absence of data on chronic smoker craving strength and the different tastes of the real and placebo cigarettes.

Conclusion: These results suggest that, in chronic smokers, tongue muscle MEP amplitudes are sensitive to neural processes active under the physiological status of nicotine craving. This finding implicates a possible functional link between neural excitability of the corticobulbar pathway and the reward system in chronic smokers.
Keyword Corticobulbar excitability
Visual stimulation
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2015 Collection
School of Psychology Publications
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