Abstract

Reorienting of visuospatial attention can be investigated by comparing reaction times to validly and invalidly cued targets (“validity effect”). The cholinergic agonist nicotine reduces the validity effect and neural activity in the posterior parietal cortex. Behavioral effects of nicotine in nonsmokers are weak and it has been suggested that differences in baseline behavior before nicotine exposure may influence the effect of nicotine. This study investigates whether individual differences in reorienting-related neural activity under placebo may be used to predict individual nicotine effects. Individual nicotine effects are defined as the behavioral effects under nicotine that cannot be predicted by the behavioral data under placebo. Fifteen nonsmoking subjects were given either placebo or nicotine gum (2 mg) prior to performing a cued target detection task inside a magnetic resonance imaging scanner. The results of a partial least square analysis suggest that neural data under placebo can be used to predict individual behavioral effects of nicotine. Neural activity in the left posterior cingulate cortex, the right superior parietal cortex, the right dorsal medial prefrontal cortex, and the left ventral medial prefrontal cortex significantly contributes to that prediction. We conclude that nicotine effects on reorienting attention depend on individual differences in reorienting-related neural activity under placebo and suggest that functional magnetic resonance imaging data can contribute to the prediction of individual drug effects.

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