Individual differences in smoking-related cue reactivity in smokers: an eye-tracking and fMRI study

Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2012 Aug 7;38(2):285-93. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2012.04.013. Epub 2012 Apr 21.


Measures of cue reactivity provide a means of studying and understanding addictive behavior. We wanted to examine the relationship between different cue reactivity measures, such as attentional bias and subjective craving, and functional brain responses toward smoking-related cues in smokers. We used eye-tracking measurements, a questionnaire for smoking urges-brief and functional magnetic resonance imaging to assess the responses to smoking-related and neutral visual cues from 25 male smokers after 36 h of smoking abstinence. Regression analyses were conducted to determine the correlation between cue-evoked brain responses and the attentional bias to smoking-related cues. The eye gaze dwell time percentage was longer in response to smoking-related cues than neutral cues, indicating significant differences in attentional bias towards smoking-related cues. The attentional bias to smoking-related cues correlated with subjective craving ratings (r=0.660, p<0.001). The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, the putamen, the posterior cingulate cortex and the primary motor cortex were associated with the attentional bias to smoking-related cues, whereas the orbitofrontal cortex, the insula and the superior temporal gyrus were associated with smoking-related cue-induced craving and smoking urges. These results suggest that attentional mechanisms in combination with motivational and reward-related mechanisms play a role in smoking-related cue reactivity. We confirmed a positive correlation between different smoking-related cue reactivities, such as attentional bias and subjective craving, and functional brain responses in various individuals. Further studies in this field might contribute to a better individualized understanding of addictive behavior.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Behavior, Addictive / physiopathology
  • Behavior, Addictive / psychology
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cues*
  • Eye Movement Measurements*
  • Eye Movements / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Individuality
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • Smoking / physiopathology*
  • Smoking / psychology
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / physiopathology*
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / psychology