Date of this Version
The effect of an acute administration of nicotine on arousal and visual-spatial ability in healthy non-smoking participants was investigated. Healthy adult volunteers with a mean age of 19.98 years received a transdermal nicotine or placebo patch prior to completing a water level task and two mental rotation tasks while concurrent psychophysiological recordings were taken. Nicotine administration showed a sexually dimorphic effect on arousal (skin conductance level and heart rate). Evidence of superior performance in males compared to females was found in reaction time and accuracy measures for the visual-spatial tasks. However, performance reflected the interaction between sex and nicotine. Nicotine slowed reaction times in the mental rotation tasks more extensively in females than males. Nicotine also reduced confidence in performance during the water level task in males, but not females. The effects of nicotine on visual-spatial ability may reflect the interactive effects of sex and changes in arousal levels induced by nicotine administration.