The Neural Basis of Cue-elicited Cigarette Craving and Its Control

2014-08-27 03:16:40 | BioPortfolio



- One kind of drug craving, known as cue-elicited craving, occurs when a drug user who sees a drug-related cue (such as an image of someone using the drug) begins to feel a craving for the drug. Researchers are interested in studying how cue-elicited craving affects brain activity using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalography (EEG) data.


- To determine which parts of the brain are associated with or involved in controlling cue-related craving in smokers.


- Individuals between 18 and 50 years of age who are current smokers (10 or more cigarettes per day) and agree to try to abstain from smoking for 1 week during the experiment.


- Participants will visit a clinical center for up to four scanning sessions, and will be asked to perform two or three outpatient tasks at home over the course of the study.

- Scan 1: Training session with a mock fMRI scanner, followed by an actual fMRI scanning session and EEG in which participants respond to pictures.

- Outpatient Task 1: Tolerance test with nicotine patch (worn for 8 hours, followed by 12 additional hours without cigarette use).

- Scans 2 and 3: Training session and fMRI scan and testing with either nicotine patch or placebo. Tasks in fMRI involve looking at cues, reporting craving and suppressing craving.

- Outpatient Task 2: Participants will keep an electronic diary for 10 to 14 days, responding to questions as directed by the researchers.

- Scans 4 and 5: Training session, fMRI scan and EEG, and testing in which participants will be instructed on methods to attempt to control cravings.

- Outpatient Task 3: Participants will keep an electronic diary for 14 days. For the first 7 days, participants will be asked to attempt to abstain from nicotine; participants may smoke normally on the second 7 days.

- Participants will be contacted 1, 3, 6, and 12 months after the end of the study for follow-up questions on current smoking habits.


Objective: Drug craving is a motivational state associated with a conscious desire to consume a drug (Fredrickson et al., 1995; Drummond, 2001). When drug abusers see drug-related cues, cue-elicited drug craving is induced (Drummond, 2001). The main goal of this investigation is to ascertain the neural basis of cue-elicited drug (e.g. cigarette) craving and its control in smokers.

Study population: The experimental population for this investigation is nicotine-dependent adults aged 18-50 years old.

Design: Participants will see the smoking-related cue or neutral cue and complete cognitive tasks (e.g. to report or regulate their craving, etc). At same time, we will employ functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), real-time functional magnetic resonance imaging (rtfMRI), and electroencephalography (EEG) to measure brain activity.

Outcome measures: There is no direct benefit to the participant by joining this study. Data from this study are expected to contribute to a better understanding of the neural processes of cigarette craving. Thus, the results may benefit the health of society. MRI-related risks (e.g., injury from metal implants, claustrophobia, and temporary hearing threshold alterations due to the loud banging noises) and nicotine-patch-related risks (e.g., dizziness, headache, upset stomach, vomiting, diarrhea, redness or swelling at the patch site) to participants are minimized by careful prescreening and standard protection.

Study Design

Allocation: Randomized, Control: Active Control, Endpoint Classification: Efficacy Study, Intervention Model: Single Group Assignment, Masking: Single Blind


Nicotine Dependence


Real Time Feedback Training


National Institute on Drug Abuse, Biomedical Research Center (BRC)
United States




National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC)

Results (where available)

View Results


Published on BioPortfolio: 2014-08-27T03:16:40-0400

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