Prospective memory (PM) refers to remembering to remember and is essential for everyday living. Although recent research has focused upon PM deficits associated with recreational drug use, very little research to date has focused on smoking and PM. This thesis had four aims. Firstly, to verify whether PM deficits are associated with prolonged smoking could be replicated. Secondly, to observe whether such smoking-related deficits extended to objective measures of PM. Thirdly, to assess what effect, if any, abstinence from smoking had upon PM. Fourthly, to ascertain whether there was any difference in PM performance between regular (daily) smokers and social (binge) smokers. Participants were drawn primarily from undergraduates in North East universities. Studies 1–3 in this thesis studied self-reports and objective measures of PM in smokers, previous smokers and non-smokers. Across all three studies no consistent findings were observed on self-reported PM reflecting deficits associated with smoking, but smokers performed worse on the objective measures of PM than non-smokers, with previous smokers falling between the other two groups – suggesting that smokers’ PM is impaired and that those who stopped smoking appeared to recover a proportion of their PM function. Study 4 revealed smokers’ poor performance on objective tasks was not confounded by their being in a state of withdrawal. Studies 5 and 6 explored whether any difference was observed between ‘social’ (binge) smokers and ‘regular’ (daily) smokers on PM performance. Studies 5 and 6 found no difference between social and regular smokers on a video-based, nor a real-world PM task. Overall, it was concluded that self-reports of PM do not provide consistent findings (first aim), lowered PM performance on objective measures are associated with prolonged smoking (second aim), previous smokers show some recovery of PM function (third aim) and that the pattern of smoking does not affect PM performance in smokers’ (fourth aim).
|Publication status||Accepted/In press - 2 Mar 2010|