Exposure to smoking-related stimuli may induce the reconsolidation of smoking-related memories in smokers. Research has proposed that extinction applied after the retrieval of a smoking memory may inhibit reconsolidation and prevent craving. The aim of this study was to test the effect of postretrieval extinction (PRE) on the reconsolidation of smoking memory by using a virtual reality (VR) simulation in smokers. On the day 1 session, the study exposed 46 smokers to a neutral and then to a smoking VR scenario under a fixed-block protocol. On day 2, the study randomized participants into three groups (G) and exposed them to a 15-s VR immersion in smoking (G1, G3) or neutral (G2) scenario for memory retrieval. After 15 min, the study exposed G1 and G2 to a VR PRE during the temporal window of memory vulnerability, whereas the study exposed G3 to extinction immediately after retrieval. On day 3, the study exposed all groups to neutral and smoking scenarios similar to day 1. All groups significantly increased craving for cigarettes after exposure to the smoking scenario on day 1 (p < 0.01). On day 3, VR PRE after a 15-second VR smoking memory retrieval was able to inhibit reconsolidation in G1, but not in G3 exposed to PRE before the window of vulnerability, or in G2 not exposed to the smoking memory retrieval. These findings show the superiority of VR PRE after smoking memory retrieval compared to a standard extinction procedure.

A virtual reality study on postretrieval extinction of smoking memory reconsolidation in smokers

Thomas Zandonai;Giulia Benvegnù;Francesco Tommasi;Elettra Libener;Bogdan Maris;Cristiano Chiamulera
2021-01-01

Abstract

Exposure to smoking-related stimuli may induce the reconsolidation of smoking-related memories in smokers. Research has proposed that extinction applied after the retrieval of a smoking memory may inhibit reconsolidation and prevent craving. The aim of this study was to test the effect of postretrieval extinction (PRE) on the reconsolidation of smoking memory by using a virtual reality (VR) simulation in smokers. On the day 1 session, the study exposed 46 smokers to a neutral and then to a smoking VR scenario under a fixed-block protocol. On day 2, the study randomized participants into three groups (G) and exposed them to a 15-s VR immersion in smoking (G1, G3) or neutral (G2) scenario for memory retrieval. After 15 min, the study exposed G1 and G2 to a VR PRE during the temporal window of memory vulnerability, whereas the study exposed G3 to extinction immediately after retrieval. On day 3, the study exposed all groups to neutral and smoking scenarios similar to day 1. All groups significantly increased craving for cigarettes after exposure to the smoking scenario on day 1 (p < 0.01). On day 3, VR PRE after a 15-second VR smoking memory retrieval was able to inhibit reconsolidation in G1, but not in G3 exposed to PRE before the window of vulnerability, or in G2 not exposed to the smoking memory retrieval. These findings show the superiority of VR PRE after smoking memory retrieval compared to a standard extinction procedure.
Memory reconsolidation, Smoking, Craving, Virtual reality, Postretrieval extinction
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11562/1038541
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