A psychophysiological re-evaluation of Eysenck's theory concerning cigarette smoking. Part I. The central nervous system
The original publication is available at http://www.samj.org.za
According to Eysenck, extraverts are characterized by inhibited cortical activity accompanied by prominent alpha brain rhythms. This prevents effective cortical functioning. They have a 'stimulus hunger' in order to increase cortical efficiency. Assuming that nicotine is a stimulant drug, Eysenck puts forward his theory that extraverts will also have a 'stimulus hunger' for the nicotine in cigarettes and will therefore smoke more than introverts, to whom the reverse applies. Implicit in Eysenck's theory is a positive, causal relationship between the amount of alpha brain rhythms and the number of cigarettes smoked. Inspection of the literature, however, indicated that small doses of nicotine stimulate the nervous system, whereas large doses tend to inhibit it. Eysenck's theory was therefore challenged by the alternative hypothesis that light smokers are characterized by prominent alpha brain rhythms and smoke for stimulation. Heavy smokers are, however, characterized by a small amount of alpha activity (overactivated cortex which also prevents efficient functioning), and therefore smoke for inhibition to enhance their cortical efficiency and thus their alpha activity. The results were reconcilable with this hypothesis. The positive relationship implied by Eysenck's theory only held good for light and moderate smokers. Heavy smokers probably smoke for cortical inhibition.
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