Nicotine effects on anterior cingulate cortex in schizophrenia and healthy smokers as revealed by EEG-informed fMRI

Arian Mobascher, Tracy Warbrick, Juergen Brinkmeyer, Francesco Musso, Tony Stoecker, N. Jon Shah, Georg Winterer

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16 Citations (Scopus)


Nicotine can have beneficial effects on attention performance and corresponding brain function in both schizophrenia patients and healthy controls, but it remains controversial whether nicotine affects brain function differentially in patients vs. controls. The effects of nicotine on brain activity elicited by attention-requiring oddball-type tasks have not been studied in schizophrenia patients. In this study we sought to investigate the impact of nicotine on the p300 evoked potential component and corresponding fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) activation measures in schizophrenia patients and controls. Applying a double-blind, placebo-controlled cross-over design, the effects of 1. mg nasal nicotine on brain activity elicited by a visual oddball-type task in N=14 schizophrenia and N=15 control smokers were studied with simultaneous EEG-fMRI. EEG single trial amplitudes were used to inform the fMRI analysis. We found a nicotine-associated increase in P300-informed fMRI activation in schizophrenia patients and controls, mainly in the anterior cingulate and adjacent medial frontal cortex. No group differences in the response to nicotine were found. Remarkably, averaged EEG and fMRI activation measures considered in isolation were largely unaffected by nicotine. Taken together, the effects of nicotine on P300 amplitude-associated brain activation do not seem to be fundamentally different in schizophrenic smokers and healthy controls.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)168-177
Number of pages10
JournalPsychiatry Research: Neuroimaging
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Anterior cingulate cortex
  • Electroencephalography
  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging
  • Nicotine
  • Schizophrenia

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