Original Investigation

Psychopharmacology

, Volume 200, Issue 4, pp 529-544

First online:

Initial nicotine sensitivity in humans as a function of impulsivity

  • Kenneth A. PerkinsAffiliated withWestern Psychiatric Institute & Clinic, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Email author 
  • , Caryn LermanAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania
  • , Sarah B. CoddingtonAffiliated withWestern Psychiatric Institute & Clinic, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
  • , Christopher JettonAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of California at Los Angeles
  • , Joshua L. KarelitzAffiliated withWestern Psychiatric Institute & Clinic, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
  • , John A. ScottAffiliated withWestern Psychiatric Institute & Clinic, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
  • , Annette S. WilsonAffiliated withDepartment of Environmental and Occupational Health, Salk Hall, University of Pittsburgh

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Abstract

Rationale

Impulsivity is related to greater risk of nicotine dependence, perhaps by enhancing sensitivity to nicotine’s reinforcing and rewarding effects during initial smoking experiences.

Objective

We examined the influence of impulsivity characteristics on acute sensitivity to nicotine reward, reinforcement, and other effects in 131 young adult nonsmokers.

Materials and methods

Participants engaged in four sessions: the first three to assess dose–response effects of nasal spray nicotine (0, 5, 10 μg/kg) on reward, as well as mood, physiological, and performance effects, and the fourth to assess nicotine reinforcement using a choice procedure. Five impulsivity factors, derived from factor analysis of self-report (e.g., Barratt Impulsivity Scale, Sensation-Seeking Scale, Novelty seeking) and computer (stop–go, delay discounting, probability discounting) measures of impulsivity, were labeled “novelty seeking”, “response disinhibition”, “extraversion”, “inhibition”, and “probability/delay discounting”.

Results

The associations of novelty seeking with nicotine reinforcement and reward tended to move in opposite directions by sex, generally being directly related in men but inversely or unrelated in women. Similarly, response disinhibition was associated with reward and some mood responses to nicotine that differed by sex. Extraversion was inversely associated with nicotine reinforcement. Characteristics loading on to the other impulsivity factors had little association with nicotine sensitivity.

Conclusions

These results are preliminary, but they suggest that characteristics broadly related to impulsivity, especially novelty seeking and response disinhibition, are associated with initial sensitivity to some effects of acute nicotine, including reinforcement and reward, and may do so differentially between men and women.

Keywords

Nicotine Sensitivity Impulsivity Sex differences Nonsmokers Reinforcement Reward