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The influence of acetaminophen on task related attention Mutti, Sumeet


The attenuating effects of acetaminophen on neuroaffective and neurocognitive processing, bear striking similarity to those of event-related processing observed during periods of off- task thoughts. The current study was designed to investigate whether acetaminophen impacts or alters normal patterns of neurocognitive disengagement with events in the external environment during off-task attentional states. In a placebo-controlled, between-groups design, participants performed a sustained attention to response task (SART) while event- related potentials (ERPs) to target events were recorded. At random intervals participants were queried for their attentional reports at the time of stoppage – either “on-task” or “off- task”. The frequency of off-task attentional reports and the ERPs generated by target events immediately preceding these subjective reports were assessed. Behaviourally, the frequency of off-task attentional reports was comparable between groups. Electrophysiologically, there were two findings of note. First, there was an overall main effect of attentional state on the amplitude of the P300 ERP component elicited target events, such that the mean amplitude was significantly attenuated during off-task vs. on-task attentional states in both the acetaminophen and placebo groups. Second, the amplitude of the LPP ERP component elicited by target events showed a significant decrease in amplitude during off-task attentional states that was specific to the acetaminophen group. Take together, my findings suggest that acetaminophen impacts neurocognitive disengagement during off-task attentional states, but not by increasing the attenuation of more basic stimulus categorization processes as indexed by the P300 ERP component, but rather, by catalyzing the attenuation of deeper, more contemplative stimulus evaluations, as indexed by the LPP ERP component.

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