Sex differences in negative affective response during nicotine withdrawal

Psychophysiology. 2006 Jul;43(4):344-56. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8986.2006.00406.x.


This study examined physiological indicants of the neurobiological mediators of negative affect during acute nicotine withdrawal. Eighty subjects (41 male) were assigned to one of four groups (24-h deprived or nondeprived dependent smokers, occasional smokers, and nonsmokers) and participated in an instructed fear conditioning paradigm involving cued administration of electric shock. Negative affective response was measured with fear-potentiated startle during cues that signaled electric shock and during the postcue offset recovery period. Salivary cortisol and self-report measures were also collected. Fear-potentiated startle results indicated that affective recovery postcue offset was delayed in nicotine-deprived women. Nicotine-deprived women also displayed elevated cortisol levels throughout the fear conditioning procedure.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect*
  • Electroshock
  • Fear / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / metabolism
  • Male
  • Reflex, Startle / drug effects
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Smoking / psychology
  • Smoking Cessation / psychology
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / psychology*
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / psychology*


  • Hydrocortisone