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Lookup NU author(s): Dr Claire Allison,
Dr Mohammed Shoaib
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A large number of studies in both humans and experimental animals have demonstrated nicotine-induced improvements in various aspects of cognitive function, including attention and memory. The prefrontal cortex (PFC) is thought to be critically involved in the modulation of executive function and these attentional processes are enhanced by nicotine acting at nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. The involvement of nicotinic processes on cognitive flexibility in particular has not been specifically investigated. The effects of nicotine on attentional flexibility were therefore evaluated using the rodent attentional set shifting task in rats. Nicotine injected both acutely and following repeated pre-exposure significantly improved both intradimensional and extradimensional set shifting performance in the task. Further investigation of the acute effects of nicotine demonstrated this improvement in attentional flexibility to be dose-dependent. These results implicate the nicotinic receptor system in the mediation of processes underlying cognitive flexibility and suggest that nicotine improves attentional flexibility in rats, both within and between perceptual dimensions of a compound stimulus. Nicotine-induced alterations in prefrontal circuitry may underlie these effects on cognitive flexibility. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled 'Cognitive Enhancers'. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Author(s): Allison C, Shoaib M
Publication type: Article
Publication status: Published
Print publication date: 01/01/2013
ISSN (print): 0028-3908
ISSN (electronic): 1873-7064
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