Student Research Paper
Dr. Robert Wickham and Dr. Michael Roy
Smoking cigarettes is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Menthol is well known to exacerbate tobacco addiction. It is unclear, however, if menthol directly effects dopamine release which may increase the reward associated with smoking or if menthol has any effect on environmental cues which act as reinforcers for smoking behavior. Study 1 used fast scan cyclic voltammetry to examine the effects of nicotine and menthol, administered alone and in combination, on phasic dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens of male Sprague-Dawley rats. Results confirmed that nicotine, but not menthol, enhances phasic dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens. Menthol added to nicotine did not enhance phasic dopamine release above that elicited by nicotine alone. Study 2 used an online survey to examine the relationship between menthol status and environmental cues on nicotine consumption in human smokers. Results determined that there is no significant relationship between menthol status and smoking behavior. Taken together these results suggest that nicotine is the driving force behind tobacco addiction and menthol may act as a facilitator to make nicotine consumption more appealing.
Carter, Kathryn, "Smoking Behavior: An Analysis of Menthol's Effect on Nicotine" (2021). Psychology: Student Scholarship & Creative Works. 8.