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The Value Enhancing Effects of Nicotine Across Complex Reinforcers
AuthorBarcelos Nomicos, Laura
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Smoking increases one’s risk for a number of fatal diseases. Most smokers report wanting to quit but very few are successful. The main active ingredient in cigarettes, nicotine, plays multiple roles in addiction. Animal studies have found that nicotine enhances the value of highly preferred reinforcers. This study expands on this research with humans. In Experiment I, reinforcer value was measured across three categories of reinforcers by progressive ratios and breakpoints (BP), purchase tasks (PT), preference ranking, and delay discounting across three participants. Results indicate multiple relationships, both positive and negative, between PT results and BPs. Rankings of reinforcers corresponded with results from PT. Experiment II examined the role of nicotine and reinforcer value using an ABA withdrawal design with two experimental participants and two control group participants. One experimental participant demonstrated a consistent pattern of responding suggesting nicotine influences responding on PT, however, it did not always increase value. For all experimental participants the demand for social reinforcers was less in the nicotine conditions. The use of PT for examining the effects of nicotine on reinforcer value is promising. It provides an efficient and cost-effective method for studying elements of reinforcer value with humans. The category of reinforcers was found to be important to how nicotine interacts. This effect extends beyond ranked reinforcer preference.