Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version

Fall 12-4-2014


Barrett, S. T. (2014) A quantitative analysis of the value-enhancing effects of nicotine, bupropion, and varenicline in male and females rats (Doctoral dissertation). University of Nebraska - Lincoln, Lincoln.


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Psychology, Under the Supervision of Professor Rick A. Bevins. Lincoln, Nebraska: November, 2014

Copyright (c) 2014 Scott Taylor Barrett


Smoking and tobacco dependence are serious health concerns in the United States and globally. Reward via the pharmacological effects of nicotine are believed to be the principal motivating factor that drive tobacco dependence. Research reveals differences in sensitivity between males and females to the motivational effects of nicotine in tobacco use. Enhancement of reinforcement value of non-nicotine rewards contributes to overall nicotine reward. Similar value-enhancing effects have been observed by the two most commonly prescribed smoking cessation aids, bupropion and varenicline. The present dissertation investigated the value-enhancing effects of nicotine, bupropion and varenicline in both male and female rats using a behavioral economic, reinforcer demand approach. Additionally, the role of dopamine D1 and D2 receptor families and of α4β2* and α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) were investigated in the enhancing effects of nicotine and of bupropion and varenicline, respectively. In two experiments, rats were trained to lever-press maintained by visual stimulus (VS) reinforcement. The response requirement was systematically increased over blocks of 16 sessions according to the following sequence of fixed ratio schedules: 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512. Saline, nicotine and bupropion (Experiment 1) or varenicline (Experiment 2) were administered preceding sessions within each session block. Demand for VS reinforcement was analyzed under each drug condition and between the sexes using a behavioral economic model. The effects of dopamine (D1 or D2 family, Exp1) or nAChR antagonism (α4β2* and α7, Exp2) under each drug condition were also analyzed on responding maintained by progressive ratio VS reinforcement. Nicotine, bupropion and varenicline each enhanced the value of VS reinforcement in male and female rats. Females showed greater sensitivity to the value-enhancing effects of each drug, especially on measures of persistence. Enhancement by bupropion but not nicotine was attenuated by D2 family antagonism in both sexes. Antagonism of α4β2* but not α7 nAChRs attenuated the value-enhancing effects of nicotine and varenicline in females, but only of nicotine in males.

Advisor: Rick A. Bevins