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Dissociating the effect of flavor and nicotine in smokeless tobacco products using electroencephalography: The case of wintergreen flavors

Dissociating the effect of flavor and nicotine in smokeless tobacco products using electroencephalography: The case of wintergreen flavors

Addictive Behaviors 91: 82-89

The increased consumption of tobacco products in recent years has been linked, among other factors, to the presence of added flavors. Although flavors are important in explaining consumption, their effects in the brain have until now been unexplored. In the present study, we investigated how electrophysiology can serve to dissociate the effects of nicotine and flavor. Participants attended 4 sessions (2-by-2 factorial design, with flavor and nicotine as within-subject factors), in each session an oddball task was performed before and after smokeless tobacco consumption. We explored the dissociation of neural responses to flavor and nicotine. While event-related potentials did not show modulation due to flavors, time-frequency showed a flavor-nicotine dissociation. Low-frequency activity (delta, theta and alpha) showed only effects of nicotine, and high-frequency activity (beta1, beta2 and gamma) showed effects only susceptible to flavor. Flavors in smokeless tobacco not only made the product more desirable but also triggered the allocation of cognitive resources. This long-lasting effect of flavor may enhance the addictive potential of the tobacco product. Further research is being developed to determine the precise role of flavors in contributing to addiction. This is the first study investigating the neural effects of flavor (specifically wintergreen) in smokeless tobacco products. By understanding the effects of flavors in the brain we can explain the precipitants of tobacco consumption behaviors, and the addictive potential of flavors. Regulators will be able to determine if and in which amount flavors should be allowed in tobacco products.

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Accession: 066010255

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PMID: 30553545

DOI: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2018.11.013

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