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Karelitz, Joshua (2017) THE EFFECTS OF NICOTINE ON THE HABITUATION OF REINFORCER EFFECTIVENESS. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Beyond its primary and secondary reinforcing effects, nicotine also enhances reinforcement from non-drug stimuli unrelated to smoking. Possibly relevant to that effect, preclinical research has shown that nicotine can maintain the effectiveness of a non-drug operant reinforcer across repeated presentations. Operant reinforcement is a dynamic process in which a reinforcer’s ability to promote behavior decreases systematically with each presentation, leading to within-session declines in responding. Habituation to the sensory aspects of a reinforcer is the mechanism underlying declines in its effectiveness. Nicotine’s effect on habituation of reinforcer effectiveness has not been demonstrated in humans. The current study was designed as a first step in translating animal research examining nicotine’s influence on habituation of reinforcer effectiveness to a human sample. Using a within-subjects design, 30 dependent smokers (14 males, 16 females) participated in two experimental sessions, as part of a larger study. Sessions varied by nicotine condition, no nicotine after overnight abstinence (>12 hr; CO <10 ppm) or ad lib smoking of own cigarette without overnight abstinence (CO > 10 ppm; “nicotine condition”). In each session, participants engaged in a 15-min operant response task to earn time viewing a preferred picture (attractive human model; 7 sec per earned reinforcer; fixed-interval 10 schedule), with unique pictures per session. Overall, reinforced responding and duration of responding were each significantly greater in the nicotine versus no nicotine condition. When examining within-session patterns of responding, rate of reinforced responding declined less sharply early in the trial and persisted longer under the nicotine versus no nicotine condition. Exploratory analyses suggested that neither self-reported withdrawal levels nor nicotine condition order influenced differences in patterns of responding between conditions. Overall, these results are an initial demonstration of nicotine’s (via cigarette smoke) ability to maintain the effectiveness of a reinforcer longer, compared to a no nicotine control. Delaying declines in reinforcer effectiveness may be yet another way in which nicotine promotes smoking behavior.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Karelitz, Joshuajlk146@pitt.edujlk1460000-0001-9211-9460
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairPerkins,
Committee MemberDonny,
Committee MemberSayette,
Date: 21 September 2017
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 5 May 2017
Approval Date: 21 September 2017
Submission Date: 10 May 2017
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Number of Pages: 71
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
Degree: MS - Master of Science
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: nicotine, habituation, reinforcement
Date Deposited: 21 Sep 2017 23:04
Last Modified: 21 Sep 2022 05:15


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