Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version

January 2008


Published in Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior 88:3 (January 2008), pp. 256-264. Copyright © 2007 Elsevier Inc. Used by permission.


The rewarding effects of nicotine contribute to the chronic use of tobacco products. The place conditioning task, a widely used pre-clinical model to study drug reward, has lead to mixed results in rats when nicotine was administered subcutaneously or intraperitoneally; intravenously administered nicotine has not been examined. Further, much of the research demonstrating a nicotine-conditioned place preference in rats has used a biased design making these results susceptible to nonreward interpretations. The present study assessed whether intravenous (IV) nicotine would condition a place preference in an unbiased design and evaluated important behavioral parameters: nicotine dose, number of conditioning trials, and infusion- to-placement interval. In adult male Sprague Dawley rats, IV nicotine (0.03 mg/kg) conditioned a place preference after 8 conditioning trials. This conditioned preference was observed whether nicotine was infused 10 min before or immediately after placement in the paired environment for 10 min; infusing nicotine immediately after removal from the paired environment did not condition a preference after 4 or 8 conditioning trials. Four conditioning trials were not sufficient to condition a preference regardless of the temporal relation between the paired environment and 0.03 mg/kg nicotine. A 0.01 mg/kg dose of nicotine did not condition a place preference after 4 or 8 trials when infused immediately upon placement in the paired environment. Intravenous nicotine (0.03 mg/kg) has rewarding effects in an unbiased design suggesting that the place conditioning protocol used in the present study might be an especially useful model for studying the processes underlying the conditioned rewarding effects of nicotine.