Nicotine and Smoking: A Review of Effects on Human Performance

Stephen J. Heishman, Richard C. Taylor, Jack E. Henningfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

301 Scopus citations


The purpose of this review was to examine the effects of nicotine administration and cigarette smoking on human performance to clarify the role of such effects in controlling smoking. The results of 101 studies (129 experiments) published in scientific journals from 1970-1993 were reviewed. In nonabstinent smokers and nonsmokers, nicotine enhanced finger tapping and motor responses in tests of attention; cognitive functioning was not reliably enhanced. It is unlikely that these limited performance-enhancing effects of nicotine play an important role in the initiation of cigarette smoking. In contrast, data from abstinent smokers support the conclusion that nicotine deprivation functions to maintain smoking in nicotine-dependent persons, in part, because nicotine can reverse withdrawal-induced deficits in several areas of performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)345-395
Number of pages51
JournalExperimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1994
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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