A National Research Priority Program of  
the

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Funding Period 2007 - 2010

P 15

Attentional network, nicotine-dependence and alpha4beta2 nAch receptor genotype in healthy subjects and schizophrenic patients

Dr. med. Georg Winterer (Principle Investigator)
Cologne Center for Genomics
Institute for Genetics
University of Cologne
Zülpicher Str. 47
50674 Cologne
+49-221-470-1350
Fax: +49-221-470-1350
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together with:

Professor Dr. Gereon Rudolf Fink (Principle Investigator)
University of Cologne
Dept. of Neurology
50924 Cologne
+49-(0)221/478-4015
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and:
Research Center Juelich (Helmholtz Institute)
Institute of Neurosciences & Biophysics, Institute of Medicine
52425 Juelich
+49-(0)2461/61-4334 or 2725
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Nicotine is improving attentional capacity which goes along with an activation of the attentional network in the brain. So far, however, it is unresolved whether nicotine is used for the purpose of self-medication by those nicotine-dependent subjects who suffer from subclinical or clinical attentional deficits which may sustain nicotine addiction. In the present study, we investigate healthy subjects and schizophrenic patients who frequently show very low attentional capacity with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electrophysiology (EEG) during attention-requiring tasks to assess the level of attentional network activity. It is anticipated that low attentional network activity (during baseline condition, after nicotine challenge and after withdrawal) predicts the degree of nicotine dependence including the strength of withdrawal symptoms and relapse rate after smoking cessation. In addition, we expect that functional variations within alpha4beta2 nAch receptor genotype are associated with attentional capacity and -by extension - with nicotine dependence.