Instructed smoking expectancy modulates cue-elicited neural activity: a preliminary study

Nicotine Tob Res. 2005 Aug;7(4):637-45. doi: 10.1080/14622200500185520.


In recent years, research applying functional neuroimaging to the study of cue-elicited drug craving has emerged. This research has begun to identify a distributed system of brain activity during drug craving. A review of this literature suggested that expectations regarding the opportunity to use a drug affected the pattern of neural responses elicited by drug cues. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we examined the effects of smoking expectancy on the neural response to neutral (e.g., roll of tape) and smoking-related (a cigarette) stimuli in male cigarette smokers deprived of nicotine for 8 hr. As predicted, several brain regions (e.g., the anterior cingulate cortex) exhibited differential activation during cigarette versus neutral cue exposure. Moreover, we found that subregions of the prefrontal cortex (i.e., ventromedial, ventrolateral, and dorsolateral prefrontal cortices) showed cue-elicited activation that was modulated by smoking expectancy. These results highlight the importance of perceived drug use opportunity in the neurobiological response to drug cues.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Brain / blood supply*
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cues*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Neural Pathways / blood supply
  • Nicotine / adverse effects*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / blood supply
  • Smoking / physiopathology*
  • Smoking / psychology
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / physiopathology*
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / psychology
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / physiopathology*
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / psychology


  • Nicotine