Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version



Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2011 January ; 213(1): 131–141.


© Springer-Verlag 2010


Rationale—Research using a drug discriminated goal-tracking (DGT) task showed that the Nmethyl- D-aspartate (NMDA) channel blocker MK-801 (dizocilpine) reduced the nicotine-evoked conditioned response (CR).

Objectives—Given the unknown mechanism of the effect, Experiment 1 replicated the MK-801 results and included tests with NMDA receptor ligands. Experiments 2a and 2b tested whether MK-801 pretreatment blocked DGT via a state-dependency effect.

Methods—In Experiment 1, adult male Sprague–Dawley rats received intermittent access to liquid sucrose following nicotine (0.4 mg base/kg); no sucrose was delivered on intermixed saline sessions. Conditioning was indicated by increased anticipatory dipper entries (goal-tracking) on nicotine compared to saline sessions. Antagonism and/or substitution tests were conducted with MK-801, phencyclidine, CGP 39551, d-CPPene (SDZ EAA 494), Ro 25,6981, L-701,324, ACPC, and NMDA. In Experiment 2a, rats received nicotine and sucrose on every session—no intermixed saline sessions without sucrose. Tests combined MK-801 or the non-competitive nicotinic acetylcholine receptor antagonist, mecamylamine with either nicotine or saline. Experiment 2b had sucrose delivered on saline sessions and no sucrose on intermixed nicotine sessions followed by MK-801 antagonism tests of the saline CS.

Results—MK-801 and phencyclidine dose-dependently attenuated the CR in Experiment 1. Ro-25,6981 enhanced the CR, but did not substitute for nicotine. Other ligands showed inconsistent effects. In Experiment 2a, MK-801 pretreatment reduced goal-tracking when given before nicotine and saline test sessions; mecamylamine pretreatment had no effect. In Experiment 2b, MK-801 dose-dependently attenuated the saline-evoked CR.

Conclusions—Combined, the results suggest that MK-801 blocks discriminated goal-tracking by virtue of state-changing properties.

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