Electronic cigarettes, the battery-operated devices that provide nicotine via inhaled vapor, may help improve memory. That was the finding of research presented at the British Psychological Society's annual conference (April 18-20, 2012).
The study was conducted on 85 regular smokers (men and women) by Dr. Lynne Dawkins of the University of East London. The participants of the study (all smokers) were randomly given an e-cigarette with either nicotine, or a placebo. Some participants were told to just hold the e-cigarette without actually the device.
After 5 minutes of using the e-cigarette as much as they wanted to, participants completed a cravings and mood questionnaire. They then repeated the questionnaire 20 minutes after using the e-cigarette. In addition, 60 participants completed a working memory task 10-15 minutes after they used the e-cigarette. The working memory task included the Letter Cancellation Task and the Brown-Peterson Working Memory Task.
Results of the E-cigarette Study
Among the study's participants who tested for working memory, it was found that the men and women who used the e-cigarettes with nicotine (as opposed to the placebo, or not using the device at all) maintained better working memory.
The nicotine group was the fastest to complete the Letter Cancellation Task. The "just hold" group came in second, while the placebo group came in third. The worst performance (measured by the numbers of errors made) was the "just hold" group. The nicotine group performed best across all 6 trials of the memory test, and retained better memory performance at the longer time intervals.
Dr. Lynne Dawkins stated that they were interested in exploring the effectiveness of electronic cigarettes since relatively little research had been done. She also noted that it was interesting to see the reduction of carvings and effectiveness of e-cigarettes on men and women.
"Perhaps more significantly, we found that e-cigarettes with nicotine
help maintain working memory in smokers who have not smoked for an hour
or two. People who choose to stop smoking without using a nicotine
substitute may therefore suffer a period during which their working
memory levels dip until their bodies adjust to the reduced levels of
nicotine. E-cigarettes seem to be effective at reducing this problem for
men and women. However, in this study we did not look at the issue of
whether people feel self-conscious about using the devices in public."
So there you have it. According to the study, e-cigarettes help to improve working memory among smokers. So should you use e-cigarettes just to improve your memory? In my opinion, no. Switch to e-cigarettes because they're a much better (and cheaper) alternative to smoking tobacco cigarettes.
Fact: E-cigarettes contain no tar, no carbon monoxide, no ash and no smoke.
Personally, I think the increase in memory may be due to the nicotine itself. It's widely known that nicotine enhances memory and concentration. In addition, nicotine also enhances alertness, increases arousal and decreases pain.
So my take on this study is that it shows two things: One, e-cigarettes are truly an effective means in which to deliver nicotine. And two, nicotine improves memory. But beyond that, I don't see anything all too earth-shattering.
The real story here is that e-cigarettes definitely allow you to get your nicotine fix, but without many of the chemicals (4,000 plus chemicals) that are found in tobacco cigarettes, which is definitely awesome.
Bottom line, e-cigarettes are the way to go, especially if you want to find an awesome alternative to smoking.