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Investigating the influence of smoking on willed action and cognitive function in individuals with brain injury

Richardson, Matt; (2001) Investigating the influence of smoking on willed action and cognitive function in individuals with brain injury. Doctoral thesis (D.Clin.Psy), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Rationale: Smoking triggers dopamine release, particularly in the mesocorticolimbic dopamine system. Activation of this system has a major overlap with functioning of the frontostriatal circuitry, which has been labelled the 'willed action system'. 'Willed action' describes action that is non-automatic, internally generated, effortful, and involves conscious control. It is implicated in initiation and motivation. There is evidence that abstinence from smoking leads to acute impairments in a range of cognitive and motivational measures, many of which are associated with frontal / frontostriatal functioning. Aims: The current study aimed to investigate the effects of smoking on willed action in 18 brain-injured smokers. Method: A within-subjects cross-over design was utilised, to compare performance after an acute (>2 hours) period of abstinence from smoking with performance after smoking. The test battery included measures of reward responsivity (objective and subjective measures of motivation), initiation (verbal fluency), and working memory. Results: Reward responsivity was enhanced after a cigarette had been smoked compared to the abstinent condition. Additionally, performance on the card sorting task was particularly enhanced after smoking on the first occasion, i.e. when the task was novel. There was no significant enhancement on any other measure. Conclusion: The results suggest that reward responsivity is modulated by acute smoking status, suggesting a specific effect of nicotine on aspects of motivation. Enhancement of performance is particularly seen when the task is novel. These conclusions are partially in concordance with a willed action framework. Implications are discussed with reference to routine neuropsychological assessments, and a possible role for nicotine as a therapeutic agent for enhancing motivation after acquired brain injury.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: D.Clin.Psy
Title: Investigating the influence of smoking on willed action and cognitive function in individuals with brain injury
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Biological sciences; Brain injury
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10103896
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