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Nicotinic Modulation of the Default Network

Information source: University of Maryland
ClinicalTrials.gov processed this data on August 23, 2015
Link to the current ClinicalTrials.gov record.

Condition(s) targeted: Magnetic Resonance Imaging; Cognition; Nicotine; Mecamylamine

Intervention: Nicotine (Drug); Mecamylamine (Drug); Placebo (Drug)

Phase: N/A

Status: Completed

Sponsored by: University of Maryland

Official(s) and/or principal investigator(s):
Britta Hahn, Ph.D., Principal Investigator, Affiliation: University of Maryland


Many disorders where attentional problems are a hallmark, such as Alzheimer's disease and schizophrenia, display abnormal regulation of the so-called default network of resting brain function that maintains internally directed thought when the mind is free to wander. These regions can be overactive or less readily deactivated with attention-demanding tasks, and excess activity is thought to impair performance. There is indication that nicotine may improve attention by aiding the deactivation of the default network, and this mechanism may be of therapeutic benefit for the above disease states. The current project aims at providing a proof of concept by demonstrating that nicotinic drugs modulate default network function. The nicotinic agonist nicotine is hypothesized to improve attention by facilitating the down-regulation of default network activity, and the nicotinic antagonist mecamylamine is hypothesized to impair attention by impeding the down-regulation of default network activity during attentional task performance.

Clinical Details

Official title: Nicotinic Modulation of the Default Network of Resting Brain Function

Study design: Allocation: Randomized, Intervention Model: Crossover Assignment, Masking: Double Blind (Subject, Investigator, Outcomes Assessor), Primary Purpose: Basic Science

Primary outcome:

Effects of nicotine on cognitive performance

Effects of nicotine on default network activity

Effects of mecamylamine on cognitive performance

Effects of mecamylamine on default network activity

Secondary outcome:

Effects of nicotine on subjective state

Effects of nicotine on vital signs

Effects of mecamylamine on subjective state

Effects of mecamylamine on vital signs


Minimum age: 21 Years. Maximum age: 50 Years. Gender(s): Both.


Inclusion Criteria:

- Age 21 through 50.

- Did not consume cigarettes, cigarillos, cigars, or other tobacco or

nicotine-containing products more than 20 times in lifetime, and did not use any nicotine-containing product at all within the last two years.

- Normal or corrected to normal vision (at least 20/80).

Exclusion Criteria:

- Presence of metal objects in the body, implanted electronic devices, or any other

counter indication for MRI.

- Claustrophobia.

- Major psychiatric disorders including mood, anxiety or psychotic disorders.

- Cardiovascular or cerebrovascular disease, such as history of myocardial infarction,

heart failure, angina, stroke, severe arrhythmias, or EKG abnormalities.

- Kidney or liver disease.

- Hypertension (resting systolic BP above 140 or diastolic above 85 mm Hg).

- Hypotension (resting systolic BP below 95 or diastolic below 60).

- Use of any prescription or over-the-counter drug other than supplements and birth


- History of or current neurological illnesses, such as stroke, seizures, dementia or

organic brain syndrome.

- Learning disability, attention deficit disorder, or any other condition that impedes

memory and attention.

- Glaucoma, organic pyloric stenosis, uremia or renal insufficiency.

- Prostatic hypertrophy, bladder neck obstruction or urethral stricture.

- Left-handed or ambidextrous.

- Pregnant as determined by urine test, or breast-feeding.

- History or current diagnosis of drug or alcohol abuse or dependence.

- IQ < 85 as estimated by the WASI vocabulary subtest.

Locations and Contacts

Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, Baltimore, Maryland 21228, United States

National Institute on Drug Abuse, Intramural Research Program, Baltimore, Maryland 21224, United States

Additional Information

Related publications:

Hahn B, Ross TJ, Yang Y, Kim I, Huestis MA, Stein EA. Nicotine enhances visuospatial attention by deactivating areas of the resting brain default network. J Neurosci. 2007 Mar 28;27(13):3477-89.

Starting date: October 2010
Last updated: April 14, 2015

Page last updated: August 23, 2015

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