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Drug Alcohol Depend. 2013 Nov 1;133(1):167-71. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2013.05.016. Epub 2013 Jun 13.

Influence of reinforcer magnitude and nicotine amount on smoking's acute reinforcement enhancing effects.

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  • 1Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, 3811 O'Hara Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA. Electronic address:



Nicotine's acute effects on enhancing reinforcement from sensory rewards, shown in animal models, appear to occur with smoking in humans. These effects may vary due to reinforcer magnitude and amount of acute smoke intake (dose).


In a fully within-subjects design, dependent smokers (n=23) participated in 3 sessions. Each session followed overnight abstinence and involved 4 trials to assess responding via progressive ratio (PR 50%) for sensory reinforcement from high, moderate, or low preference music, or no reward (counter-balanced, 30-s/reinforcer). Sessions differed in smoking prior to each trial: 8 puffs on arrival and 2 puffs/trial ("8+2″), 2 puffs/trial only ("0+2″), or no smoking. Puffs were consumed via CReSS (Clinical Research Support System) to control topography, and smoking involved own brand to ensure palatability and increase generalizability of results.


Reinforced responding was influenced by main effects of smoking condition (p<.05) and music reward type (p<.001). Compared to no smoking, responding for music was increased after smoking 8+2/trial puffs (p<.005), but not after 0+2/trial puffs. Smoking condition significantly increased reinforced responding only for the high preference music (p=.01), and not for moderate or low preference music, or for no reward. Withdrawal did not differ between the two smoking sessions, ruling out withdrawal relief as an explanation for differential reinforcement enhancement.


Our findings confirm that just one cigarette after abstinence is sufficient for reinforcement enhancing effects and suggest that such enhancement is greater as magnitude of a reward's reinforcing efficacy increases.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.


CReSS; Music; Nicotine; Reinforcement enhancement; Reinforcing efficacy; Smoking

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