Acute effects of oral cocaine on inhibitory control of behavior in humans

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111 Scopus citations


Studies of humans show that individuals with histories of cocaine abuse display reduced inhibitory control over behavioral impulses. The present study tested the effects of oral cocaine on the ability to inhibit behavior in humans. Eight adult volunteers (seven men and one woman) with a history of cocaine abuse participated as in-patient volunteers. Response inhibition and response execution were measured by a stop-signal paradigm using a choice reaction time task that engaged subjects in responding to go-signals when stop-signals occasionally informed them to inhibit the response. Subjects' performance on the task was tested just before and 1 h after a randomized, double-blind administration of 0 mg (placebo), 50, 100, and 150 mg of oral cocaine HCl. Cocaine reduced subjects' ability to inhibit responses to stop-signals. By contrast, no effect of cocaine was observed on the ability to execute responses in terms of their speed and accuracy. Subjective and physiological effects of cocaine were also observed. Together, the findings indicate that acute administration of cocaine can impair the ability to inhibit behavioral responses at doses that do not affect the ability to respond. These findings are important because they identify a specific disinhibiting effect of cocaine that could help explain the documented association between long-term cocaine use and poor impulse control.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-167
Number of pages11
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 1 2002

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by grants DA14079 and DA10325 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.


  • Cocaine
  • Human
  • Response inhibition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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