Some individuals who try electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) continue to use long-term. Previous research has investigated the safety of e-cigarettes and their potential for use in smoking cessation, but comparatively little research has explored chronic or habitual e-cigarette use. In particular, the relationship between e-cigarette cues and craving is unknown. We sought to bridge this gap by developing a novel set of e-cigarette (salient) and electronic toothbrush (neutral) videos for use in cue-reactivity paradigms. Additionally, we demonstrate the utility of this approach in a pilot fMRI study of 7 experienced e-cigarette users. Participants were scanned while viewing the cue videos before and after 10 min use of their own e-cigarettes (producing an 11.7 ng/ml increase in plasma nicotine concentration). A significant session (pre- and post-use) by video type (salient and neutral) interaction was exhibited in many sensorimotor areas commonly activated in other cue-reactivity paradigms. We did not detect significant cue-related activity in other brain regions notable in the craving literature. Possible reasons for this discrepancy are discussed, including the importance of matching cue stimuli to participants’ experiences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-32
Number of pages10
JournalBrain Research Bulletin
StatePublished - May 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience


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