Cognitive status of young and older cigarette smokers: Data from the international brain database

Robert H. Paul, Adam M. Brickman, Ronald A. Cohen, Leanne M. Williams, Raymond Niaura, Sakire Pogun, C. Richard Clark, John Gunstad, Evian Gordon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous studies that have examined the impact of cigarette smoking on cognition have revealed mixed results; some studies report no impact and others report detrimental effects, especially in older individuals. Few studies, however, have examined the effects of cigarette smoking on both young and old healthy individuals using highly robust and standardized methods of cognitive assessment. This study draws on an international database to contrast cognitive differences between younger and older individuals who regularly smoke cigarettes and non-smokers. Data were sampled from 1000 highly screened healthy individuals free of medical or psychiatric health complications. A cohort of 62 regular smokers (n = 45 < 45 years of age; n = 17 {greater than or slanted equal to} 45 years) with a Fagerstrom nicotine dependency score of 1 or more were identified and matched to a cohort of 62 healthy nonsmokers (n = 43 < 45 years; n = 19 {greater than or slanted equal to} 45 years) on demographic variables and estimated intelligence. Performances on cognitive measures of attention, reaction time, cognitive flexibility, psychomotor speed, and memory were considered for analysis. As a group, smokers performed more poorly than nonsmokers on one measure of executive function. A significant age and smoking status interaction was identified with older smokers performing more poorly than older nonsmokers and younger smokers on a measure of long-delayed recall of new information. Cigarette smoking is associated with isolated and subtle cognitive difficulties among very healthy individuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)457-465
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Clinical Neuroscience
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2006


  • Assessment
  • Cognition
  • Nicotine
  • Smoking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)


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