Effects of smoking/nicotine on anxiety, heart rate, and lateralization of EEG during a stressful movie

Psychophysiology. 1989 May;26(3):311-20. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8986.1989.tb01924.x.


The effects of smoking cigarettes with differing FTC nicotine deliveries on anxiety and EEG activity were evaluated in 40 smokers who were compared with 40 non-smokers, matched for age and gender. Following smoking (sham-smoking in the case of the non-smokers), the participants viewed a stress-inducing movie. Smoking higher-nicotine delivery cigarettes during the movie, as compared to smoking low-nicotine control cigarettes, was associated with reductions in anxiety and right hemisphere activation, increased heart rate, and enhancement of the ratio of left-hemisphere parietal EEG activation to right-hemisphere activation. These results are interpreted as indicating that the anxiolytic effects of nicotine may be mediated by the right hemisphere. The EEG activity and emotional responses of non-smokers were more like those of smokers who smoked the lower-nicotine cigarettes than those of smokers of the higher-nicotine cigarettes.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Arousal / drug effects*
  • Cerebral Cortex / drug effects
  • Dominance, Cerebral / drug effects*
  • Electroencephalography*
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motion Pictures
  • Nicotine / administration & dosage*
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Stress, Psychological / complications


  • Nicotine