The antisaccade task as an index of sustained goal activation in working memory: modulation by nicotine
journal contributionposted on 2023-06-07, 13:43 authored by Nicola Rycroft, Samuel Hutton, Jennifer Rusted
The antisaccade task provides a laboratory analogue of situations in which execution of the correct behavioural response requires the suppression of a more prepotent or habitual response. Errors (failures to inhibit a reflexive prosaccade towards a sudden onset target) are significantly increased in patients with damage to the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and patients with schizophrenia. Recent models of antisaccade performance suggest that errors are more likely to occur when the intention to initiate an antisaccade is insufficiently activated within working memory. Nicotine has been shown to enhance specific working memory processes in healthy adults. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We explored the effect of nicotine on antisaccade performance in a large sample (N = 44) of young adult smokers. Minimally abstinent participants attended two test sessions and were asked to smoke one of their own cigarettes between baseline and retest during one session only. RESULTS AND CONCLUSION: Nicotine reduced antisaccade errors and correct antisaccade latencies if delivered before optimum performance levels are achieved, suggesting that nicotine supports the activation of intentions in working memory during task performance. The implications of this research for current theoretical accounts of antisaccade performance, and for interpreting the increased rate of antisaccade errors found in some psychiatric patient groups are discussed.
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