Nicotine is a widely used addictive drug, with an estimated 73 million Americans 12 years of age or older having used a tobacco product in the last month, despite documented risks to personal health. Nicotine alters cognitive processes, which include effects on attention and impulsivity, a mechanism that may contribute to the addictive properties of the drug. Individuals with a variety of psychological disorders ranging from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to schizophrenia smoke at a higher rate than the rest of the population and show deficits in impulse control. The present studies evaluated the effects of acute, chronic, and withdrawal from chronic nicotine on an operant task that measured premature and signaled nose pokes, as well as performance efficiency in C57BL/6J mice. Results indicate that acute nicotine (0.09 mg/kg intraperitoneally) does not alter the acquisition of the task, but does significantly increase performance efficiency once the behavior has been learned. In contrast, chronic nicotine (0, 6.3, 12.6, and 36 mg/kg/day subcutaneously) and withdrawal from chronic nicotine had no effect on performance efficiency. These results suggest that initial nicotine use may have beneficial effects on inhibitory control, but these effects are not maintained with chronic nicotine consumption as tolerance develops. The findings may provide an explanation for higher rates of smoking in patients with impulse control issues, as the smoking may represent an initial attempt at self-medication.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Behavioral Neuroscience