Nicotine impairs spatial working memory while leaving spatial attention intact

Sohee Park*, Christopher Knopick, Susan McGurk, Herbert Y. Meltzer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


We investigated the effects of nicotine on spatial working memory and spatial selective attention in young, healthy smokers. Spatial working memory was assessed by a delayed response task. Delayed response performance is associated with the integrity of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Spatial interference and negative priming tasks were used to assess spatial selective attention. Nicotine impaired spatial working memory in smokers but it did not affect spatial selective attention. This result suggests that nicotine may impair dorsolateral prefrontal function, as assessed by the spatial working memory task in young smokers and that this deficit does not stem from impairments in spatial selective attention. However, the effects of nicotine on working memory and selective attention in nonsmokers or in psychiatric population with suspected nicotinic receptor abnormalities (e.g., schizophrenia patients) cannot be deduced from the present study. Copyright (C) 2000 American College of Neuropsychopharmacology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)200-209
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2000


  • Attention
  • Cholinergic
  • Frontal lobe
  • Negative priming
  • Nicotine
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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