Smoking and Memory Loss

John (Gold)
John (Gold)

6:19 AM - May 29, 2003 #1

Smoking Speeds Up
Memory Loss in Middle Age
By Alison McCook

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Cigarette smokers who continue the  habit through middle age may see their memory suffer as a result, according to new study findings released Wednesday.[/size]

UK researchers found that, from their 40s to their 50s, smokers showed a faster decline in their scores on tests of word memory, relative to non-smokers.[/size]

Furthermore, people who smoked in their 40s did worse on tests that measure how fast they could pick out certain letters from a page than non-smokers of the same age, the authors write in the American Journal of Public Health.[/size]

The relationship between smoking and memory loss appeared strongest in people who smoked more than 20 cigarettes each day, and persisted even when the authors controlled for the influence of socioeconomic status, gender and a range of medical conditions.[/size]

Just why smoking may speed up age-related memory loss is not yet clear, study author Dr. Marcus Richards of University College London told Reuters Health.[/size]

He said that he and his colleagues suspected that smoking may accelerate memory loss by increasing the risk of high blood pressure, which can damage the brain. However, the relationship between smoking and brain functioning may be slightly more complicated, Richards said.[/size]

"Our results for memory still held up after taking blood pressure into account, but smoking could have been causing changes in the brain's blood supply that we were not able to measure," he said.[/size]

Alternatively, chemicals in cigarette smoke could also damage the brain directly, Richards added.[/size]

Whatever the reasons for why smoking accelerates memory loss, the message from these results should be clear, Richards said.[/size]

"This is yet another reason to quit smoking," he said. "If you can't, then cut down as much as you can."[/size]

During the study, Richards and his team reviewed information collected from 5,362 people born in 1946. Study participants were contacted 21 times by the time they turned 53.[/size]

Researchers measured people's mental functioning via a series of tests. In one test, which looked at verbal memory, the investigators showed people 15 words for two seconds each, then asked them to write down as many as they could remember.[/size]

During tests of speed and concentration, people had to look for and cross out as many Ps and Ws they could find in a page of other letters within one minute.[/size]

Although smokers in their 40s performed just as well as non-smokers in the verbal memory tests, puffers' performance deteriorated much faster from their 40s to their 50s.[/size]

And people who said they smoked while in their 40s scored worse during speed tests conducted in their 40s than non-smokers.[/size]

But the findings also suggest that quitting may help, for the researchers discovered that people who stopped smoking before age 53, and especially those who stopped before age 43, tended to exhibit a slower decline in memory.[/size]

"Our results suggest that quitting may slow down the negative impact of smoking on cognitive function," Richards said.[/size]

SOURCE: American Journal of Public Health 2003;93.[/size]
Copyright © 2003 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.[/size]


June 2003, Vol 93, No. 6 | American Journal of Public Health 994-998
© 2003 American Public Health Association
Cigarette Smoking and Cognitive Decline in Midlife: Evidence From a Prospective Birth Cohort Study[/size]
Marcus Richards, PhD, Martin J. Jarvis, DSc, Neil Thompson, BSc and Michael E. J. Wadsworth, PhD[/size]

Marcus Richards, Neil Thompson, and Michael E. J. Wadsworth are with the Medical Research Council, National Survey of Health and Development, University College London, London, England. Martin J. Jarvis is with the Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Unit, University College London.[/size][/size]

Correspondence: Requests for reprints should be sent to Marcus Richards, PhD, MRC National Survey of Health and Development, Royal Free and University College London Medical School, University College London, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, 1-19 Torrington Pl, London WC1E 6BT, England (e-mail: [][/url]).[/size][/size]

Objectives. The authors investigated the effects of cigarette smoking on midlife cognitive performance.[/size]

Methods. Multiple regression was used to test the association between cigarette smoking and changes in cognitive test scores among male and female members of the British 1946 birth cohort aged between 43 and 53 years.[/size]

Results. Smoking was associated with faster declines in verbal memory and with slower visual search speeds. These effects were largely accounted for by individuals who smoked more than 20 cigarettes per day and were independent of sex, socioeconomic status, previous (adolescent) cognitive ability, and a range of health indicators.[/size]

Conclusions. The present results show that heavy smoking is associated with cognitive impairment and decline in midlife. Smokers who survive into later life may be at risk of clinically significant cognitive declines.[/size]
Last edited by John (Gold) on 7:21 PM - Jan 30, 2010, edited 1 time in total.


7:44 PM - May 31, 2003 #2

This study seems to have struck a chord with many of our members. I think a few people posted the same article throughout the day yesterday. Since we had the article up already we deleted the others since they were redundant. Actually we really do want people to clear news articles before posting them because the news press releases doesn't always reflect the most accurate of information.

By the fact that numerous people have heard about this report and are commenting on it I thought we should highlight it. Again, it seems to have touched a chord to many people here. When we are dealing with the dangers posed by smoking, that include diseases like cancer, heart disease, strokes, emphysema, peripheral vascular diseases and numerous other problems, it's quite amazing when something new gets reported that actually alarms people. With everything we have known for a long time now anyone thinking about cigarettes should find them absolutely terrifying already. A person who is in his or her twenty or thirties needs not only to be considering the fact that he or she may not have to worry about memory loss in his or her forties or fifties or sixties or seventies--he or she may not make it to any of those ages.

People who are there though very likely recognize that memory and learning functions are altered over the decades. This phenomena often becomes quite a concern and the individual begins to appreciate just how important memory is. People often don't appreciate the importance of certain functions until those functions are impaired or lost. The same holds true for lung functions, general endurance, and overall health.

This study brings up a number of factors that may be responsible for the effects on the brain, blood pressure effects and circulatory effects on the brain. Our post on Smoking and Circulation explains the circulatory effect on the brain as well as throughout the whole body. If any of these factors can influence memory loss it is quite likely that smokers are going to show an accelerated loss in memory functions.

What I want to caution people on though is this is one study that has not yet been verified to other such studies. You can bet that there will be others coming along the way and that in the interim that comments may be made by the tobacco industry about conflicting data trying to create a sense of doubt as to whether this reaction is real. The danger of such denials is that it makes people think that if this report is controversial, maybe the other dangers said to be posed by smoking are also so controversial. Nothing can be further from the truth.

The strength of the research about smoking and cancer, heart disease, emphysema, peripheral vascular diseases and other problems is overwhelming. The magnitude of the dangers, the number of studies done over the decades, and the number of different countries and scientific and medical groups that have explored the risks posed by smoking make it among the most uncontroversial dangerous products ever used by man. In most developed countries it is the most preventable cause of death and is slowly becoming a major problem in developing countries too. This year almost 5 million people are going to die from smoking worldwide.

As time goes on we are likely to learn more on how cigarettes has caused these problems and find out other things that smoking may be causing that we may not have identified yet. Again, there may be some controversies raised about a specific condition until studies are replicated and reviewed, but no one should allow these discussions on one issue to weaken his or her impression of the overall risks posed by cigarettes. Cigarettes are lethal and before they kill they are slowly impairing smokers and causing reactions normally associated with aging like impairing your endurance, your breathing abilities, and maybe now even your memory and cognitive functions. If years of smoking has had some impact on the memories of our older members, the good news is that there is not much that you have to remember now to end the premature aging effects posed by any damage future smoking could have caused. All it takes to stay smoke free and eliminate the risks posed by future smoking is remembering now to never take another puff!


John (Gold)
John (Gold)

6:30 AM - Sep 30, 2003 #3

Smoking linked to memory problems
Associated Press

Adults who smoke heavily develop poorer memories in middle age, according to a new British study.

It suggests smokers who survive the biggest dangers - lung cancer and heart disease - may be at risk from dementia in old age.

Researchers at University College London studied 2,000 adults as part of a broader tracking of the health of thousands of people born in Britain in 1946.

Some of the participants took memory, concentration and visual speed tests aged 43 and again at 53.

Heavy smoking - more than 20 cigarettes a day - was associated with faster declines in verbal memory and visual speed, although the declines were small.

The scientists will continue tracking the participants to see how their brains fare as get older.

The UCL study was published in the American Journal of Public Health.

Other research has already identified smoking as a possible contributor to dementia.

One cause of dementia is restricted blood flow in the brain, and smoking is linked to narrowed arteries and silent mini-strokes that choke that blood supply.
© Associated Press
Original Story Filed Thursday 29th May 2003

John (Gold)
John (Gold)

12:26 AM - Feb 11, 2004 #4

There is no debate but that smoking nicotine causes the body's fight or  flight neurochemicals to kick in and the central nervous system (CNS) to be stimulated, the mind to be fed, and alertness and awareness enhanced. But does nicotine induced CNS alertness or its effects upon other neurochemical centers somehow affect memory?

What we do know is that nicotine causes an adrenaline release that cascades into nicotine serving as a spoon that pumps stored fats and sugars into the bloodstream. It allowed us to actually skip meals and still be fed, something that would cause non-smokers to experience wild blood sugar swing symptoms that include an inability to concentrate. Can mind fog and general inability to concentrate leave a quitter believing that they are experiencing memory problems? If you have such concerns be sure and take stock in your body fueling patterns. The mind functions best when properly fed.

Human Psychopharmacology. 2002 Oct;17(7):369-73.

Acute effects of cigarettes in non-deprived smokers on memory, calculation and executive functions.

Sakurai Y, Kanazawa I.

Department of Neurology, Graduate School of Medicine, University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan.

To determine whether smoking one or two cigarettes daily has effects on cognitive functions and the blood nicotine level, we examined 20 smokers and 20 nonsmokers as part of a normal daily smoking regimen using psychological tests for memory, calculation and association. Subjects underwent Buschke's selective reminding test, a mental arithmetic task (multiplication between two digits and one digit) and an association task (letter fluency); the duration of each task being 2 min under the condition of pre-smoking, one cigarette smoking and two cigarette smoking sessions, with an inter-session interval of 50 min. The total recall or correct responses were evaluated. The results showed that performance deteriorated in the later sessions in the memory task, whereas it improved in the later sessions in the calculation and association tasks, with no group (smoker-nonsmoker) difference, nor interaction between tasks and groups in each task. Plasma nicotine increased by 10 ng/ml immediately after smoking a cigarette, and 14 ng/ml immediately after smoking two cigarettes, but decreased to the pre-smoking level or slightly higher 10 min after smoking. These findings suggested that a daily dose of nicotine had little effect on the performance related to memory, calculation and mental association. Copyright 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

PMID: 12415558 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Last edited by John (Gold) on 7:22 PM - Jan 30, 2010, edited 1 time in total.


5:51 PM - Mar 11, 2004 #5

Wow! One more validation for quitting! I have found that I am really going through that right now. My whole family bugs me about the things I keep forgetting already - for about the past year. My brain just doesnt feel as up to snuff as it should be. Before this I was wondering about Alzheimers. Anyone else notice a change. My memory has been exceptional all my life before this. Can it be reversed??
Kathleen - Free and Healing for Eight Days, 5 Hours and 36 Minutes, while extending my life expectancy 10 Hours, by avoiding the use of 124 nicotine delivery devices that would have cost me $54.36.


5:52 PM - Mar 11, 2004 #6

I'm 39 by the way.........

John (Gold)
John (Gold)

7:49 PM - Mar 11, 2004 #7

Take care not to read too too much into this one, AngelicRose. Yes smoking may be a contributing factor but as Joel has reminded me more than once, a natural part of aging process is a decline in most of our abilities including memory performance.

John (Gold)
John (Gold)

8:44 AM - Mar 23, 2004 #8

Smokers 'suffer
faster mental decline'
By Sam Lister
March 22, 2004, The Times UK
ELDERLY people who smoke lose their mental faculties up to five  times faster than non-smokers.
A study of almost 10,000 pensioners from Britain and continental Europe has found that smoking habits have an impact on cognitive function, with past or present smokers suffering a markedly faster mental decline.
Participants in the study were assessed for cognitive ability over an average of 30 months under a test known as the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), which includes tasks in comprehension, reading, writing and drawing. Among those who had never smoked, MMSE scores declined by 0.03 points a year, while current smokers dropped by 0.16 points over the same period. Former smokers' scores were found to decrease by 0.06 points a year, twice the rate of those who had never smoked.
Alewijn Ott, the lead author based at Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam, said that noticeable trends had emerged because of the number of participants, who were all over 65.
The research, published today in Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology, involved 9,209 men and women, none of whom suffered from dementia. Greater cognitive decline occurred with higher cigarette pack-year exposure, a calculation involving the number of years someone has smoked and the reported average daily number of cigarettes.
Professor Ott said that the findings were significant mainly for the former smokers and not the current smokers, in part due to lower numbers of current smokers in the study because of their higher death rate. The study, conducted in Britain, Denmark, France and the Netherlands, suggests that smoking could affect cognitive function through various mechanisms, including the onset of atherosclerosis and hypertension caused by tobacco use.
Professor Ott said that such conditions, and other effects of smoking, increased the risk of stroke and "silent" brain infarctions. He added: "More in-depth studies are needed to verify if these or other factors are responsible for greater cognitive decline in smokers."
Amanda Sandford, of the anti-smoking group ASH, said "Given the amount of poisons in cigarette smoke, it would seem logical that it must have some negative impact on brain function."
Copyright 2004 Times Newspapers Ltd.
Last edited by John (Gold) on 7:23 PM - Jan 30, 2010, edited 1 time in total.

John (Gold)
John (Gold)

9:00 AM - Mar 23, 2004 #9

Smoking 'causes brain decline'
BBC News UK Edition
Tuesday, March 23, 2004
Study links smoking to brain decline
Smoking speeds up brain decline in the elderly, a study suggests.
The rate of decline is five times higher than in people who have never smoked, according to a group of European researchers.
Their study, published in Neurology, also found that smokers who quit greatly slowed their cognitive decline.
The findings contradict some earlier research which had suggested that nicotine could actually aid the brain.
The latest study ran a series of questions and tests called a mini-mental state examination (MMSE) designed to establish the cognitive function of men and women aged 65 and over.
Among those who never smoked, their MMSE declined .03 points a year, while for current smokers it was .16 points per year. For people who had previously quit, the MMSE declined .06 points. The constant inhaling of a substance that is a poison is more likely to have a negative effect than a positive one
Amanda Sandford, ASH Study author Alewjin Ott, of the Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, in The Netherlands, said chronic tobacco use causes atherosclerosis and hypertension and that this, and other effects of smoking, increases the risk of stroke and small areas of tissue damage in the brain.
Current smoker
The greater the number of cigarettes smoked and the longer a person had been a smoker for, the greater the cognitive decline, Professor Ott found.
However, this was more significant for current smokers than those who had quit.
A family history of dementia did not influence the higher decline in smokers, said the researchers.
They studied data for 9,209 people in Denmark, France, The Netherlands and the UK for the European Community Concerted Action Epidemiology of Dementia (EURODEM) incidence research group.
Amanda Sandford, a spokeswoman for Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), said: "There has been other research suggesting nicotine might have some beneficial effects. It is quite a complex area."
Earlier studies had shown a positive effect against Alzheimer's, but Ms Sandford suggested this was because smokers did not live long enough.
She added: "The constant inhaling of a substance that is a poison is more likely to have a negative effect than a positive one."
Though smoking was more associated with damage to the heart and lungs, it also affected brain function, she said.
She welcomed the finding that those who had quit smoking also benefited as this emphasised that it was "never to late to quit".
However, Simon Clark, director of pro-smoking lobby Forest, said: "People will be very sceptical about these results. They will be put down to yet more scaremongering by the health industry.
"There have been so many weird reports recently and exaggerated claims that it is not going to have the slightest effect at all."
Copyright BBC News
Last edited by John (Gold) on 7:23 PM - Jan 30, 2010, edited 1 time in total.


11:50 PM - Mar 23, 2004 #10

Wow! Another reason to never take another puff. I am 41, so I need to think positvely that I may have quit in time.

Yesterday, while walking to get rid of my extra ten pounds, I said hello to a man at his mail box wearing a beautiful, very large gold necklace. He had to press the 'medallion' on his necklace to say hello. It was not just jewelery, it was his tracheotomy device!

I will happily diet and excercise off my ten pounds. I can breathe deeply, walk, run, etc., and now I must add talk with out mechanical assistance, and enjoy memories, to the list of smoking cessation benefits.

Pat - Free and Healing for Twenty Seven Days, 12 Hours and 11 Minutes, while extending my life expectancy 2 Days and 20 Hours, by avoiding the use of 825 nicotine delivery devices that would have cost me $165.23.

John (Gold)
John (Gold)

6:28 AM - Feb 09, 2005 #11

No, Nicotine Probably Doesn't
Ward Off Alzheimer's

Mon Feb 7, 5:31 PM ET
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - The final excuse for smoking -- that it might reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease -- has just been stubbed out, findings from an animal study suggest.[/size]

Past animal and human studies have indicated that nicotine exposure inhibits the formation of amyloid plaque, a key feature of Alzheimer's disease. However, the new study shows that chronic nicotine use appears to worsen the effects of a brain protein called tau, which is responsible for the fibrous tangles that are the other hallmark of the disease.

So, at best, the effects of nicotine are probably canceled out, according to the researchers.

Dr. Frank M. LaFerla, from the University of California at Irvine, and colleagues administered nicotine to a genetically engineered strain of mice that develops Alzheimer's disease.

Nicotine treatment produced an increase in nicotine receptors in the animals' brains that correlated with a dramatic rise in the aggregation and activity of the tau protein. This indicates that the disease-causing effects of tau were worsened, the team reports in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Moreover, in these experiments, chronic nicotine administration had no effect on levels of soluble amyloid, the researchers point out.

The results emphasize the importance of assessing nicotine's affects on all aspects of the disease, they write. "Our findings suggest that the use of nicotine as a potential therapy for Alzheimer's disease should be reevaluated."

SOURCE: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, early edition February 7, 2005.
Copyright © 2005 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.

John (Gold)
John (Gold)

5:50 PM - May 19, 2005 #12

Heavy smoking 'may affect memory'
BBC News UK Edition
Thursday, May 19, 2005

Prolonged heavy nicotine use has a negative effect on day-to-day memory, according to research. Researchers from five universities asked smokers and non-smokers to rate their long-term memory, for example remembering to send birthday cards.

They found that smoking significantly impaired memory, with heavy smokers reporting the most errors.

The survey was carried out by teams from Newcastle, Wales, Northumbria, Westminster and Teesside universities.

The survey involved more than 700 people.

Researcher Dr Tom Heffernan, of the human cognitive neuroscience unit at Northumbria University, also tested everyday memory including remembering where people had put things.

'More problems'

The teams also took into consideration how much people smoked - a heavy smoker was classed as having more than 15 cigarettes a week and a light smoker between one and four cigarettes a week.

Dr Heffernan said: "The result of the study revealed that smokers reported more errors in their long-term memory than non-smokers with an additional difference between non-smokers and heavy smokers.

"There was also a significant detrimental effect of cigarette use on everyday memory function.

"For example a typical heavy smoker reported 22% more memory-related problems than a non smoker and around 12% more problems than those who smoked only relatively a small number of cigarettes.

"It is concluded that chronic, heavy smoking is associated with impairments in everyday memory, although the precise nature of the deficits are as yet unknown."

The research was carried out via an internet questionnaire and published in scientific journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.
Copyright BBC News 2005

John (Gold)
John (Gold)

10:57 PM - Aug 31, 2006 #13

Smoking impacts on prefrontal attentional network function in young adult brains. Psychopharmacology (Berl), August 2006 [Epub ahead of print]

Musso F, Bettermann F, Vucurevic G, Stoeter P, Konrad A, Winterer G.

Department of Psychiatry, Heinrich-Heine University, Bergische Landstr. 2, 40629, Duesseldorf, Germany.

RATIONALE: There is abundant evidence from clinical and preclinical studies that acute administration of nicotine has beneficial effects on attentional network function in the brain. In contrast, little is known about potentially neurotoxic effects on the attentional network during neurodevelopmentally critical periods, such as during adolescence and early adulthood.

METHODS: Using event-related functional MRI (fMRI), we investigated prefrontal attentional network function in young adults (n=15 regular smokers and n=12 never-smokers; age: 22.61.5 years). Duration of smoking was 6.92.3 years (range of 2-10). Smokers were allowed to smoke ad libitum before the fMRI scanning was conducted.

RESULTS: As expected from literature, prefrontal attentional network activity was significantly reduced in smokers compared to nonsmokers (Z=2.1; P=0.036). In smokers, we found that the history of smoking duration (years) is directly related to the extent of diminished attentional network activity (R=-0.67; P=0.012).

CONCLUSIONS: To our best knowledge, the relationship between the duration of smoking history and prefrontal attentional network function has not yet been reported. This finding might suggest that several years of chronic nicotine abuse may be sufficient to exert long-lasting effects on the brain function of adolescents and young adults.

PMID: 16937098 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

Source link:

Joined: 7:22 PM - Nov 11, 2008

7:30 PM - Jan 30, 2010 #14

Study shows cigarette smoking a risk for Alzheimer’s disease ... s-disease/


[font='ARIAL','SANS-SERIF']Cigarette Smoking is a Risk
Factor for Alzheimer's Disease:
An Analysis Controlling for
Tobacco Industry Affiliation

[font='ARIAL','SANS-SERIF']Journal of Alzheimer's Disease[/font]

[font='ARIAL','SANS-SERIF']Volume 19, Number 2 / 2010, Pages 465-480[/font]

Cataldo JK, Prochaska JJ, Glantz SA

[font='ARIAL','SANS-SERIF']To examine the relationship between smoking and Alzheimer's disease (AD) after controlling for study design, quality, secular trend, and tobacco industry affiliation of the authors, electronic databases were searched; 43 individual studies met the inclusion criteria. For evidence of tobacco industry affiliation, was searched.

One fourth (11/43) of individual studies had tobacco-affiliated authors. Using random effects meta-analysis, 18 case control studies without tobacco industry affiliation yielded a non-significant pooled odds ratio of 0.91 (95% CI, 0.75-1.10), while 8 case control studies with tobacco industry affiliation yielded a significant pooled odds ratio of 0.86 (95% CI, 0.75-0.98) suggesting that smoking protects against AD. In contrast, 14 cohort studies without tobacco-industry affiliation yielded a significantly increased relative risk of AD of 1.45 (95% CI, 1.16-1.80) associated with smoking and the three cohort studies with tobacco industry affiliation yielded a non-significant pooled relative risk of 0.60 (95% CI 0.27-1.32). A multiple regression analysis showed that case-control studies tended to yield lower average risk estimates than cohort studies (by -0.27 0.15, P=0.075), lower risk estimates for studies done by authors affiliated with the tobacco industry (by -0.37 0.13, P=0.008), no effect of the quality of the journal in which the study was published (measured by impact factor, P=0.828), and increasing secular trend in risk estimates (0.031/year 0.013, P=0.02).

The average risk of AD for cohort studies without tobacco industry affiliation of average quality published in 2007 was estimated to be 1.72 0.19 (P< 0.0005). The available data indicate that smoking is a significant risk factor for AD.


Joined: 7:22 PM - Nov 11, 2008

2:49 PM - Apr 30, 2010 #15

Smoking cessation and Alzheimer's disease:
facts, fallacies and promise
Expert Rev Neurother. 2010 May;10(5):629-31.

Cataldo JK, Glantz SA.

Over 37 million people suffer with Alzheimer’s disease (AD), a number that will quadruple by 2050

[1]. Delaying the onset of AD by just 5 years would reduce the number of cases by 50% [1]. Current US FDA-approved AD drugs do not prevent or reverse the disease and provide only moderate symptomatic benefits. Lacking a cure, there is growing interest in prevention and treatment to slow AD progression. In a recent review, we found that smoking almost doubled the risk of AD [2]...

Even though smoking cessation can provide older smokers with increased quality and quantity of life, older smokers are asked to quit less often, given fewer resources and provided with less guidance than younger smokers
[23,26]. The myth that smoking protects against AD may discourage cessation attempts among older smokers and contribute to the reluctance of healthcare providers to treat tobacco dependence in older smokers [23]. While there is not yet any research on the effects of smoking cessation on AD risk and progression, given that smoking is a significant risk factor for CVD and AD, it makes sense that smoking cessation should become an integral part of the prevention and treatment of AD. Even as we research the specific effects of smoking cessation as an intervention to prevent or slow AD, because of its many other benefits, smoking cessation needs to become a priority in the care of all older smokers.
Note: Full text PDF freely available from link immediately above.

Referenced J Alzheimers Dis study:


Joined: 7:22 PM - Nov 11, 2008

3:23 PM - Sep 04, 2010 #16

Smoking and everyday prospective memory:
A comparison of self-report
and objective methodologies

Drug and Alcohol Dependence. 2010 August 25. [Epub ahead of print]

Heffernan T, O'Neill T, Moss M.


AIMS: To examine whether persistent smoking leads to impairments in self-reported and objective measures of prospective memory (PM: the cognitive ability to remember to carry out activities at some future point in time).

METHODS: An opportunity sample of 18 existing smokers and 22 who had never smoked were compared. An existing-groups design was utilised, comparing a smoking group with a never-smoked control group as the independent factor. Scores on the sub-scales of the Prospective and Retrospective Memory Questionnaire (PRMQ) and scores on the Cambridge Prospective Memory Test (CAMPROMPT) constituted the dependent factors. Age, mood, other drug use, strategy scores and IQ were also measured. Each participant was tested in a laboratory setting. Self-reported PM lapses were measured using the PRMQ. The CAMPROMPT was used as an objective measure of PM. Alcohol and other drug use were assessed by a Recreational Drug Use Questionnaire. The Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale gauged levels of anxiety and depression. A strategy scale measured the number of strategies used to aid memory. The National Adult Reading Test measured IQ.

RESULTS: After observing no between-group differences on age, mood, alcohol use, strategy use, and IQ, smokers and the never-smoked did not differ on the self-reported lapses measured on the PRMQ. However, smokers recalled significantly fewer items on the CAMPROMPT than the never-smoked group.

CONCLUSION: The results of the present study suggest that persistent smoking leads to impairments in everyday PM.

PubMed Link:

Interesting tidbits from the above study, weekly alcohol consumption was slightly greater in the non-smoking group than the smoking group, while anxiety and depresson levels where both higher among smokers.  When looking at research we need to remain mindful that nicotine is both a stimulant and a toxin.  While smokers in this study clearly sensed central nervous system stimulation with each puff, what they could not sense was smoke's gradual toxic effects upon brain tissues.   Still just one guiding principle to keeping our memory here on the free side of the bars ... no nicotine today!

Breathe deep, hug hard, live long,

John (Gold x11)
Last edited by JohnPolito on 3:54 PM - Sep 04, 2010, edited 1 time in total.


6:25 PM - Oct 03, 2010 #17

It's Work Being a Smoker
Their Brain Gets Worked Harder

The conclusion of the below study suggests that from the brain's point of view it's work being a smoker.  To quote from the full text of the study, "We speculate that smokers may experience higher working memory demands during task performance as a result of intrusive thoughts related to smoking." 

The paper also explores conflicts between some studies suggesting that nicotine has a positive effect upon working memory while others find that it doesn't.  The authors believe that what researchers are seeing is nicotine's effects as a nervous system stimulant (the body's fight or flight response) and not due to any enhanced function of the brain.  To again quote the authors, "the cognitive-enhancing properties of nicotine may be specific to alerting and orienting domains of attention and may not generalize to executive control operations."
Chronic smoking, but not acute
nicotine administration, modulates
neural correlates of working memory
Journal:  Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2010 Sep 23. [Epub ahead of print]

Authors:  Sutherland MT, Ross TJ, Shakleya DM, Huestis MA, Stein EA.


RATIONALE: Beyond the amelioration of deprivation-induced impairments, and in contrast to effects on attentional processes, the cognitive-enhancing properties of nicotine on working memory (WM) operations remain unclear.

OBJECTIVES: In an effort to elucidate potential enhancing effects, we explored the impact of transdermal nicotine on neural functioning in minimally deprived smokers and, in addition, assessed differences between smokers and non-smokers using a mixed block/event-related fMRI design that attempted to isolate specific central executive operations (attentional switch events) within general WM function (task blocks).

METHODS: In task blocks, participants performed a continuous counting paradigm that required the simultaneous maintenance of, and frequent switching of attentional focus between, two running tallies in WM on some trials. Cigarette smokers (n = 30) were scanned twice, once each with a nicotine and placebo patch, while non-smokers (n = 27) were scanned twice with no patch.

RESULTS: Across both groups, task blocks were associated with bilateral activation, notably in medial and lateral prefrontal cortex (PFC), anterior insula, and parietal regions, whereas individual attentional switch trials were associated with activation in a similar, but predominantly left-lateralized network. Within the smoker group, although nicotine increased heart rate, altered performance and mood, and reduced tobacco cravings, no acute drug (state-like) effect on brain activity was detected for either the task or switch effects. However, relative to non-smokers, smokers showed greater tonic activation in medial superior frontal cortex, right anterior insula, and bilateral anterior PFC throughout task blocks (trait-like effect).

CONCLUSIONS: These data suggest smokers require recruitment of additional [working memory] and supervisory control operations during task performance.

Journal Link: ""

PubMed Link:  ""
Last edited by FreedomNicotine on 6:31 PM - Oct 03, 2010, edited 2 times in total.

Joined: 7:22 PM - Nov 11, 2008

4:21 PM - Mar 09, 2012 #18

A Comparison of Social (Weekend) Smokers, Regular (Daily) Smokers and a Never-Smoked Group Upon Everyday Prospective Memory

The Open Addiction Journal, 2011, 4, Pages 72-75

Link to free full-text PDF copy of study - ... TOADDJ.pdf

Authors: Tom Heffernan and Terence O'Neill

Collaboration for Drug and Alcohol Research (CDAR), Department of Psychology, Northumbria University, Newcastleupon-Tyne, NE1 8ST, UK


Our previous studies suggested that smokers have a worse performance on everyday prospective memory (PM) tasks than non-smokers. The present study compared regular and social smokers to see if there is a dose-response relationship between smoking and PM. We recruited 28 social (weekend) smokers (SS), 28 regular (daily) smokers (RS) and 28 people who had never smoked (NS) from among social science students who reported no psychiatric or drug and alcohol problems. The participant’s PM was assessed by means of a Prospective Remembering Video Procedure (PRVP).

After controlling for between-group variations in weekly (moderate) alcohol use, mood and IQ, the findings revealed that NS performed better than RS (F= 1.44, p<0.01) and SS (F= 1.70, p<0.01), with no significant difference between RS and SS (F= 1.00, p=.38).

Smokers have a lower performance on our PM task than non-smokers, regardless of the type of smoking pattern.

Keywords: Social smokers, regular smokers, never-smoked group, prospective memory.

What follows are quotations from the intro portion of the study.
Numbers are to footnotes which can be seen at this link

There are a range of cognitive deficits associated with prolonged smoking including deficits in psychomotor speed [3], verbal and visual memory [4, 5], working memory [4, 6-9] and executive function [10-13]. It should be noted that some of the previous research has shown mixed effects of smoking upon memory, including no change or enhancement [see e.g. 14, 15], however this early research was confounded by a lack of an adequate control group (i.e. the lack of a non-smoking comparison group) or had used deprived smokers (where the ‘enhancement’ shown in memory reflects a return to baseline cognitive performance following a period of smoking abstinence). In addition, this work has tended to focus on retrospective memory, with much less focus upon what impact prolonged smoking has upon everyday memory processes. One example of everyday memory is prospective memory (PM) - which refers to the cognitive ability to carry out particular planned action(s) at some future point(s) in time [16, 17]. PM is important because the successful management of everyday tasks is crucial to independent living [17] and problems with PM might best reflect the difficulties experienced by smokers in their daily lives. PM failures can seriously disrupt everyday living, ranging from the less serious forms (e.g. forgetting to post a birthday card on time), to very serious forms of lapses (e.g. forgetting to take an important medication on time).

Only a handful of studies have focused on smoking-related PM deficits. In two of these studies smokers reported significantly more self-reported PM lapses (e.g. forgetting to meet with friends on time, posting letters on time) when compared with never-smoked groups [18, 19] and a further study found smoking-related PM deficits when compared with never-smoked group on an objective measure in the form of the Cambridge Prospective Memory Test which provided a laboratory-based measure of PM [20]. These findings were observed after controlling for a range of other factors, e.g. other drug use and mood. A recent focus in the smoking literature is the distinction between ‘social’ and ‘regular’ smoking as distinct patterns of smoking [see e.g. 21, 22]. A social smoker can be defined as a person who smokes a fairly large quantity of cigarettes in a short session (i.e. within a few hours) on a handful of occasions across the week (e.g. when going out at the weekend with friends). Regular smokers are those who smoke on a daily basis, regardless of any activity in which they are engaged. It has been suggested that social smokers exhibit a different psychobiological profile from regular smokers [22], but no work to date has compared social and regular smokers on cognition in general, or on everyday cognition in the form of prospective remembering. If the association between smoking and memory functioning is causal, we would expect a dose-response, i.e. a more severe deficit in heavier smokers compared to occasional smokers.

The current study therefore aims to address this by comparing ‘social (weekend) smokers’, ‘regular (daily) smokers’, and a never-smoked control group on an objective PM measure in the form of the Prospective Remembering Video Procedure (PRVP). The PRVP involves remembering a series of pre-determined location-action combinations whilst viewing a short CD clip of a busy shopping high street, giving the procedure ecological validity since it is more akin to remembering within a real-world context. The PRVP is based on a methodology used previously to reveal selective PM deficits in both cannabis users [23] and binge drinkers [24]. Other recreational drug use (e.g. alcohol, cannabis, ecstasy) were also measured and analysed - since these variables are known to affect PM performance independently [25, 26]. Given that mood (e.g. anxiety, depression) can interact with drug use upon cognition and memory [27] and that mood has been shown to influence PM directly [28], this was also measured and its relationship to the main PM was analysed. Finally, variations in IQ were measured since this good performance on IQ (using the National Adult Reading Test) correlates well with good PM performance [29].