There is growing recognition that nonnicotine factors, such as the sensory stimuli associated with smoking, can play a critical role in the maintenance of cigarette smoking. However, little is known about the effects of nicotine on responding maintained by these stimuli, which are assumed to be conditioned reinforcers. The authors used an animal model to examine the acute and chronic effects of nicotine on responses maintained by food and conditioned reinforcers (i.e., lights) and responses in the absence of programmed consequences (i.e., extinction). During the acute phase, 4 male rats received 5 doses of subcutaneous nicotine. One dose of nicotine was then administered for a minimum of 60 days. Food-maintained and extinction responses did not significantly increase during the acute phase; however, food-maintained responses did increase during the chronic phase. Relative to vehicle, intermediate doses increased responses maintained by conditioned reinforcers during both phases. The results suggest that nicotine enhances responding maintained by conditioned reinforcers and possibly by food.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Pharmacology (medical)