The conditional stimulus effects of nicotine vary as a function of training dose

Jennifer E. Murray, Rick A. Bevins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Although past research has shown that the interoceptive effects of nicotine serve as a conditional stimulus using sucrose as the unconditioned stimulus, very little is known about the importance of dose. Accordingly, rats were assigned to 0.1, 0.2, or 0.4 mg nicotine base/kg as the training dose. Sucrose (4-s access) was delivered 36 times on nicotine sessions; sucrose was withheld on intermixed saline sessions. The discrimination was acquired for all groups, as measured by more photobeam breaks in the dipper receptacle before the first sucrose delivery on nicotine sessions, compared with a similar interval on saline sessions. Thirty nicotine sessions without sucrose deliveries (extinction) decreased conditioned responding with the 0.4 mg/kg dose maintaining higher responding than the lower doses. After reestablishing discrimination performance, rats were tested with their training dose at various injection-to-placement intervals. Conditioned responding diminished with longer intervals; 0.4 mg/kg nicotine-evoked conditioned responding at longer intervals. Subsequent generalization testing with nicotine or saline at the 5-min training interval found that conditioned responding was evoked by lower test doses in the 0.1 mg/kg group than in the other groups. Combined, this research demonstrates that the nicotine conditional stimulus shows some variation with training dose.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)707-716
Number of pages10
JournalBehavioural pharmacology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 2007


  • Classical conditioning
  • Discriminative stimulus
  • Drug discrimination
  • Goal tracking
  • Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors
  • Occasion setting
  • Pavlovian conditioning
  • Rat
  • Smoking
  • Stimulus salience
  • Tobacco dependence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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