Enhanced identification of smoking-related words during the attentional blink in smokers

Andrew J. Waters, Stephen J. Heishman, Caryn Lerman, Wallace Pickworth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The attentional blink (AB) occurs when ongoing processing of one target (T1) in a series of rapidly presented stimuli impairs processing of a subsequently presented second target (T2), such that T2 cannot be consciously perceived or reported. There is evidence that the AB can be influenced by the emotional or motivational salience of T2. We examined whether the AB could be attenuated by smoking-related stimuli in smokers. Heavy smokers (N = 55) performed an AB task on two occasions, once following 12-h of abstinence and once following ad libitum smoking. T2s were either smoking-related or neutral (household-related) words, and lagged T1 by 0 to 7 distracter words. T1s were all neutral words. Each word was presented for 130 ms. Subjects were required to recall T1 and T2 immediately after each trial. There was a significant word type by lag interaction, whereby smoking-related T2s were recalled better than neutral T2s at early, but not late, lags. The word type effect at early lags was significantly associated with attentional bias assessed on the smoking Stroop task, but was not significantly moderated by abstinence. These data indicate that, in heavy smokers, smoking-related stimuli are more likely to engage conscious awareness than neutral words under conditions of limited attentional resources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3077-3082
Number of pages6
JournalAddictive Behaviors
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Attentional bias
  • Attentional blink
  • Smoking cues

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Enhanced identification of smoking-related words during the attentional blink in smokers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this