Date of this Version
Behav Processes. 2009 May ; 81(1): 136–139.
Previous studies have shown that the interoceptive nicotine conditional stimulus (CS) functions similarly to exteroceptive CSs such as lights or environments. For instance, the appetitive conditioned response (CR) evoked when nicotine is repeatedly paired with sucrose presentations (the unconditioned stimulus; US) is sensitive to changes in training dose (CS salience) and the contiguity between the CS effects and sucrose. The current study was conducted to extend this research by examining the possible role of US intensity in CR acquisition and maintenance. Rats were trained using one of four sucrose concentrations: 0, 4, 16, or 32% (w/v). On nicotine sessions (0.4 mg base/kg), rats received 36 deliveries (4 sec each) of their assigned concentration intermittently throughout the session; sucrose was withheld on saline sessions. In all groups, an appetitive goal-tracking CR was acquired at a similar rate. However, the asymptotic CR level varied with sucrose concentration. The magnitude of the CR was increased in rats trained with higher sucrose US concentrations. These findings are consistent with previous Pavlovian conditioning research, and extend the conditions under which the nicotine state functions as an interoceptive conditional stimulus.