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J Exp Anal Behav. 2012 Sep;98(2):155-67.

Relations among acute and chronic nicotine administration, short-term memory, and tactics of data analysis.

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McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School, 115 Mill Street, Belmont, MA 02478, USA.


Emerging evidence suggests that nicotine may enhance short-term memory. Some of this evidence comes from nonhuman primate research using a procedure called delayed matching-to-sample, wherein the monkey is trained to select a comparison stimulus that matches some physical property of a previously presented sample stimulus. Delays between sample stimulus offset and comparison stimuli onset are manipulated and accuracy is measured. The present research attempted to systematically replicate these enhancement effects with pigeons. In addition, the effects of nicotine were assessed under another, more dynamic, memory task called titrating-delay matching-to-sample. In this procedure, the delay between sample offset and comparison onset adjusts as a function of the subject's performance. Correct matches increase the delay, mismatches decrease the delay, and titrated delay values serve as the primary dependent measure. Both studies examined nicotine's effects under acute and chronic administration. Neither provided clear or compelling evidence of memory enhancement following nicotine administration despite reliable and systematic dose-related changes in response latency measures. A modest dose-related effect on accuracy was found, but the magnitude of the effect appears to be directly related to tactics of data analysis involving best-dose analyses of a very circumscribed subset of trial types.


delayed matching-to-sample; key peck; memory; nicotine; pigeons; titrating-delay matching-to-sample

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