The effect of two subcutaneous injections of 0.6 mg nicotine, administered 40 min apart, was compared with placebo in four non-smoking subjects in a counter-balanced double-blind crossover design. The nicotine injections produced mean peak plasma nicotine concentrations of 5.3 ng/ml 10 min after the first injection and 8.5 ng/ml 10 min after the second injection. The nicotine injections produced an increase in mean dominant alpha frequency on the electroencephalogram (EEG) which was 2 Hz greater than the effect of placebo (P=0.049) and also produced a heart-rate boost which was 8 beats per minute greater than that produced by placebo (P=0.022). These effects on dominant alpha frequency and heart rate were most apparent in the 10 min following each nicotine injection. The increase in dominant alpha frequency found in non-smokers in this study was similar to that following nicotine inhalation in abstinent smokers in previous studies, and suggests that this is a primary effect of nicotine, rather than simply a reversal of withdrawal-induced EEG slowing.
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