The tobacco withdrawal syndrome: performance decrements assessed on a computerized test battery

Frederick R. Snyder, Frances C. Davis, Jack E. Henningfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

135 Scopus citations


The effects of tobacco abstinence and resumption of smoking on cognitive performance were studied in seven cigarette smokers. Subjects were trained on a computerized performance assessment battery (PAB) that included five different tests. Baseline data were obtained under conditions of minimally restricted cigarette smoking. This baseline smoking phase ended at 1000 h on the first day of tobacco deprivation and the PAB was then administered at intervals of 1, 4 and 8 h, and once at 1000 h on each of the next 9 days. Upon resumption of smoking (1000 h on day 11), testing was conducted at intervals of 1, 4, 8 and 24 h. The main findings were that tobacco deprivation resulted in significantly increased response latencies on all of the tests and decreased accuracy on two tests. Some performance impairments were observed within 4 h after the start of the smoke deprivation phase. Impairments peaked at 24-48 h and then begun to return toward baseline values; however, some measures remained significantly changed throughout the 10 days of abstinence. Performance decrements that were still evident throughout the deprivation phase were at least partially reversed after 1 h of resumption of smoking; all values returned to baseline levels within 24 h of resumption of smoking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)259-266
Number of pages8
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1989


  • cigarette smoking
  • cognitive performance
  • nicotine dependence
  • relapse
  • withdrawal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Toxicology
  • Health(social science)


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