The Association Between Neurocognitive Functioning and Smoking in Adolescence: The TRAILS Study
Objective: This study examines the association between neurocognitive functioning and tobacco smoking in adolescence. Method: Data from three measurements of the longitudinal Tracking Adolescents' Individual Lives Survey (TRAILS), a large regional population-based cohort study of Dutch adolescents, were used. The first measurement took place in 2001-2002 (T1) when participants were age 11, with two follow-up measurements (2003-2004 and 2005-2007; T2 and T3, respectively). A total of 1,797 adolescents participated in all three waves. At T1, they performed a selection of tasks from the Amsterdam Neuropsychological Tasks program (De Sonneville, 1999), which enabled the assessment of the main aspects of neurocognitive functioning. Smoking was assessed with a self-report questionnaire at T1, T2, and T3. In the multivariate analyses we controlled for gender, age, socioeconomic status (SES) and baseline speed. Results: Multivariate logistic regression analyses showed that poor sustained attention increased the likelihood that the adolescent would initiate smoking between T1 and T2. Low inhibition of prepotent responses increased the likelihood of smoking initiation between T1 and T3. An increased ability to inhibit biased response tendencies reduced the likelihood of being a daily smoker at T2. Poor sustained attention increased the likelihood of being a daily smoker at T3. Conclusion: Poor sustained attention and low inhibition predicted adolescent smoking. However, the proportion of the variance in smoking risk accounted for by these neurocognitive predictors proved to be small. Thus, although neurocognitive functioning is related to adolescent smoking, it seems to explain only a small part of why adolescents initiate and continue smoking.