Smoking-cue modulation of the startle reflex and the relationship to stages of change



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Texas Tech University


The current study investigated the appetitive nature of smoking-related drug cues among 22 nicotine dependent males, taking into consideration participants' Stage of Change. Affective modulation of the startle reflex was measured in order to gauge affective response to positive, negative, neutral, and smoking images. Results revealed that smoking images were physiologically pleasant, as indicated by startle reflex attenuation, for participants (N = 11) in the Precontemplation stage. However, those participants in the contemplation stage showed atypical affective modulation, with responses to positive images similar to neutral images. Additionally, those participants in the Contemplation stage (N = 11) rated smoking images similar to neutral images, while those in the Precontemplation stage rated these images similar to pleasant images. Overall results support the notion that smoking cues are physiologically appetitive in nature for nicotine dependent individuals, after accounting for Stage of Change.



Transtheoretical model, Stage of change, Smoking, Nicotine