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A boost from nicotine

Yale Medicine Magazine, 2002 - Spring

Contents

Why do so many patients with schizophrenia smoke? It may be because nicotine improves one aspect of cognitive function and helps compensate for other brain impairment associated with schizophrenia. “This is one of only a few studies to suggest that nicotine has a beneficial effect on spatial working memory, which is known to be impaired in schizophrenic patients,” said principal investigator Tony P. George, M.D., who published findings in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology in January. Smokers without schizophrenia did not show an improvement in spatial working memory, and in fact, nonschizophrenic smokers had an impairment of this cognitive function, which improved when they quit smoking.