A National Research Priority Program of  
the

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Funding Period 2007 - 2010

P24

Towards risk prediction of nicotine dependency by exploring individual limits of cortical neuroplasticity in humans

Dr. Michael Nitsche (Principle Investigator)
University of Goettingen
Dept. of Clinical Neurophysiology
Robert-Koch-Strasse 40, 37075 Goettingen
+49-(0)551/39-12631
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together with:

Dr. Nicolas Lang
University of Goettingen
Dept. of Clinical Neurophysiology
Robert-Koch-Strasse 40, 37075 Goettingen
+49-(0)551/39-8457
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Professor Dr. Walter Paulus
University of Goettingen
Dept. of Clinical Neurophysiology
Robert-Koch-Strasse 40, 37075 Goettingen
+49-(0)551/39-6650
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Nicotine is a strong inductor and modulator of cortical activity and long-term potentiation. Hereby it influences learning and memory processes as well as addiction. Nicotine-dependent cognitive improvements in humans seem to differ between smoking and not smoking individuals, as presumed by the "deficit compensating hypothesis" of nicotine consumption. This project pursues the following aims: (i) First we will differentiate acute cortical excitability shifts elicited by nicotine in smokers and non-smokers (Collaboration with Prof. Wodarz). (ii) We will induce LTPand LTD-like cortical neuroplasticity changes by transcranial direct current stimulation with and without nicotine in smokers and non-smokers, (iii) We will correlate nicotineenhanced neuroplasticity with cognitive performance and performance-related cerebral activity, as revealed by fMRI, in smokers and non-smokers, (iv) The interdependence of neurophysiological and cognitive effects with genetically defined phenotypes (collaboration with Proff. Winterer, Batra, Andreas) of smokers will be explored. In summary, we aim to develop a neurophysiology-based in vivo model of the impact of nicotine on cerebral function, which will help to understand the mechanisms of nicotine addiction and relapse after withdrawal to a greater extent.