Response disinhibition evoked by the administration of nicotine and nicotine-associated contextual cues

Ari P. Kirshenbaum, Matthew W. Johnson, Sarah L. Schwarz, Eric R. Jackson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Nicotine causes dose-dependent alterations in accuracy on the differential-reinforcement of low-rate responding (DRL) 29.5-s schedule in rats. The current investigation evaluated whether nicotine-associated contextual cues can produce nicotine-like perturbations in DRL-schedule performance in the absence of nicotine. Nicotine and saline administrations occurred just prior to DRL 29.5-s schedule responding for sucrose solution, and two different experimental contexts (differentiated by visual, olfactory, and tactile cues) were utilized. All subjects (N = 16) experienced two consecutive sessions of DRL-schedule responding per day. The experimental group (n = 8) was exposed to saline immediately prior to the first session and 0.3 mg/kg nicotine before the second session, and the context was changed between sessions. This sequence of saline and then nicotine administration, paired with two reliable contexts, persisted for 12 consecutive days and successive nicotine administrations corresponded with increasingly poorer performance on the DRL 29.5-s schedule. No nicotine was administered for days 13-20 during context testing, and the nicotine-associated context produced response disinhibition on the DRL schedule. Two control groups were included in the design; subjects in one control group (n = 4) received saline in each context to verify that the contexts themselves were not exerting control over operant responding. To assess how explicit and non-explicit pairings of nicotine and contextual cues influenced DRL behavior, subjects in a second control group (n = 4) were given nicotine prior to the second session, but the contexts were not altered between sessions. The results from this experiment suggest that environmental stimuli associated with nicotine exposure can come to elicit nicotine-induced performance decrements on a DRL 29.5-s schedule.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-108
Number of pages12
JournalDrug and alcohol dependence
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Nov 1 2009


  • Context
  • DRL schedule
  • Impulsivity
  • Nicotine
  • Response disinhibition
  • Sensitization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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