Effects of nicotine and caffeine, separately and in combination, on EEG topography, mood, heart rate, cortisol, and vigilance

Psychophysiology. 2000 Sep;37(5):583-95.


Effects of nicotine and caffeine, separately and in combination, were assessed in 12 male habitual smokers in a repeated-measures design. Caffeine (0-mg vs. two 150-mg doses administered in a decaffeinated/sugar-free cola drink post-baseline and 90 min later) was crossed with nicotine (ad libitum own dosing vs. 1.0-mg machine-delivered dose vs. 0.05-mg machine-delivered dose). Participants smoked a total of five cigarettes at 30-min intervals over a 2-hr period. Caffeine and nicotine had large effect sizes on electroencephalogram (EEG) power; however, these effects were modulated by the eyes open versus closed condition, the other drug, and electrode site. EEG effects of open versus closed eyes tended to be of the same size and direction as those of nicotine and caffeine. However, whereas nicotine increased EEG power in some higher frequency bands in some conditions, caffeine decreased EEG power across almost all conditions. Serum cortisol concentration, vigor, and pleasantness were increased by nicotine, but not by caffeine. Level of depressive mood depended on an interaction of caffeine and nicotine. Vigilance performance was enhanced significantly by caffeine and was increased almost significantly by nicotine. The findings were interpreted in terms of common and differential mechanisms of the two drugs.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect / drug effects*
  • Arousal / drug effects*
  • Caffeine / blood
  • Caffeine / pharmacology*
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / blood
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / pharmacology*
  • Drug Interactions
  • Electroencephalography / drug effects*
  • Heart Rate / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood*
  • Male
  • Nicotine / blood
  • Nicotine / pharmacology*
  • Nicotinic Agonists / blood
  • Nicotinic Agonists / pharmacology*


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Nicotinic Agonists
  • Caffeine
  • Nicotine
  • Hydrocortisone