Document Type



Summer 2021

Academic Department


Faculty Advisor(s)

Dr. Robert Wickham


Nicotine addiction harms millions of individuals worldwide: financially, socially, and psychologically. Successful smoking cessation could dramatically improve the quality of life for these people. A key driver of smoking relapse centers around associated environmental cues, which induces craving and drives a smoker to re-initiate smoking. Previous work has shown that nicotine can enhance the reinforcing properties of reward-associated cues in male rats. This research aims to evaluate nicotine’s effect on female rats using a behavioral assay called “cue-induced reward-seeking.” In this behavioral assay, rats are trained to press a lever that produces liquid sucrose along with an audiovisual cue. After the training period, the liquid sucrose reward is omitted. Surprisingly, animals will keep pressing the lever, as the cue has become synonymous with the reward. Here, we describe various approaches (water deprivation, food restriction, and shaping) that could potentially be helpful in establishing sucrose self-administration with the goal of examining how nicotine influences cue-induced sucrose-seeking. Shaping was found to be the most influential approach in promoting sucrose self-administration. In future experiments, nicotine (0.4 mg/kg, s.c.) will be administered in these rats in a comparison with controls (saline, s.c.) prior to training to assess the effects of nicotine on cue-induced sucrose-seeking.


Scholarship, Creative Arts, and Research Project (SCARP)

Included in

Psychology Commons