Date of this Version
Flynn, A. 2020. Enhancing the Rewarding Effects and Subsequent Self-Administration of Nicotine through Appetitive Interoceptive Conditioning. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Nicotine is commonly considered to be the primary addictive constituent in tobacco products. Therefore, research focused on nicotine and its effects is necessary for understanding nicotine dependency and in developing potential cessation treatments. Research has confirmed the relevance of learning processes associated with nicotine and their influence on the development of addiction. Conditioning involving interoceptive stimuli is increasingly cited as playing a role in many diseases, psychopathologies, and drug addiction. The internal stimulus effects of nicotine can form associations with other reinforcing stimuli through a process of Pavlovian conditioning where nicotine is the conditioned stimulus. In this way, nicotine acquires control over drug-seeking behavior. There is also the potential that a learning history with interoceptive conditioning could alter the relative reinforcement effects of nicotine. The purpose of the present study is to determine how a conditioning history with the stimulus effects of (IV) nicotine will affect subsequent nicotine self-administration in rats. Following an initial conditioning phase, rats were allowed to self-administer nicotine before undergoing an extinction and nicotine-primed reinstatement phase. Learning history significantly affected self-administration with the paired nicotine group showing elevated numbers of earned drug infusions compared to the unpaired nicotine group and both the paired and unpaired saline groups. However, there were no definitive group differences within the extinction and reinstatement phases of the experiment. These findings suggest that appetitive interoceptive conditioning can amplify the reinforcement effects of nicotine, which can subsequently enhance nicotine self-administration.