Date of this Version
Behav Pharmacol. 2012 December ; 23(8): 781–789.
Reward enhancement by nicotine has been suggested as an important phenomenon contributing toward tobacco abuse and dependence. Reinforcement value is a multifaceted construct not fully represented by any single measure of response strength. The present study evaluated the changes in the reinforcement value of a visual stimulus in 16 male Sprague–Dawley rats using the reinforcer demand technique proposed by Hursh and Silberberg. The different parameters of the model have been shown to represent differing facets of reinforcement value, including intensity, perseverance, and sensitivity to changes in response cost. Rats lever-pressed for 1-min presentations of a compound visual stimulus over blocks of 10 sessions across a range of response requirements (fixed ratio 1, 2, 4, 8, 14, 22, 32). Nicotine (0.4 mg/kg, base) or saline was administered 5 min before each session. Estimates from the demand model were calculated between nicotine and saline administration conditions within subjects and changes in reinforcement value were assessed as differences in Q0, Pmax, Omax, and essential value. Nicotine administration increased operant responding across the entire range of reinforcement schedules tested, and uniformly affected model parameter estimates in a manner suggesting increased reinforcement value of the visual stimulus.