Exposure to nicotine enhances its subsequent self-administration: Contribution of nicotine-associated contextual stimuli

Nichole M. Neugebauer*, James J. Cortright, Georgia R. Sampedro, Paul Vezina

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

Contextual stimuli present during nicotine exposure can come to act as conditioned stimuli and have been shown to play an important role in ongoing nicotine self-administration. In the present study, we characterized the effects of contextual stimuli previously paired with non-contingent nicotine exposure injections on subsequent nicotine self-administration. Rats were exposed to five injections of either saline or nicotine (0.4. mg/kg, i.p.) in either their home cage or a self-administration chamber with the levers retracted. Two weeks later, they were allowed to self-administer nicotine (30. μg/kg/infusion, IV) under fixed ratio (FR) schedules of reinforcement across 12 consecutive sessions. Lastly, responding under a progressive ratio (PR) schedule was assessed. Rats exposed to nicotine in the self-administration chamber subsequently increased their intake of nicotine across the FR test days, obtaining more infusions on average by days 7-12 compared to their saline exposed controls. This increase was not due to nicotine exposure alone as rats exposed to nicotine in the home cage did not show this effect. It was also not due to differences in the final ratio achieved between nicotine and saline exposed rats. Although rats exposed to nicotine in the self-administration chambers displayed reduced discrimination between the active and inactive levers during FR testing, they showed increased motivation to self-administer nicotine under the PR schedule. These results indicate that exposure to nicotine can enhance its subsequent self-administration and highlight the contribution of nicotine-associated contextual stimuli to the work output rats ultimately emit to obtain the drug.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)155-161
Number of pages7
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Volume260
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2014

Keywords

  • Conditioning
  • Contextual stimulus
  • Exposure
  • Nicotine
  • Self-administration
  • Sensitization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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