Reinforcement Enhancing Effects of Nicotine

"I enjoy learning about the research project process in general as well as each study the lab is currently running. The lab is running a few different studies which is allowing me to learn more about the various aspects of addiction. The people I work with are very knowledgeable so I have been enjoying learning by asking a lot of questions about each project."

Supervising Faculty:
Kenneth Perkins, Ph.D.


Contact:
Kenneth A. Perkins, 412-246-5395, perkinska@upmc.edu
Joshua Karelitz M.A., 412-246-5396
Taylor Herb B.A., 412-246-5306


Area of Research: Clinical health psychology; health behavior change; nicotine dependence


Description of Research:

This NIH-funded project is studying whether nicotine via cessation medication acts in the same way as nicotine via cigarette smoking to enhance the reinforcing value of non-drug rewards, as shown in animal models.  Results may help explain how nicotine replacement medications (e.g. patch) helps smokers succeed in quitting. Smokers abstain overnight prior to several study visits of a few hrs each to assess short-term effects of nicotine patch or gum, or placebo, on reinforced responding for rewards.  Upcoming studies may determine the minimum nicotine dose needed to demonstrate its reinforcement enhancing effects.  

Duties of Students:
Students may take participants through initial recruitment interview questions and perhaps brief study session tasks, depending on students’ availability, interest, and ability to carefully follow a protocol.  Students will also engage in other project-related tasks, such as data entry, general office tasks, and perhaps assist with data analysis. Only students willing to participate in two academic terms are eligible, due to the time needed for initial training. Students should be available at least several hours at a time on at least 2 days per week. Total number of hours of participation per week will be 6-9 hours for 2 or 3 credits.
 
Additional Requirements:

  • Only students interested in participating for two or more academic terms are eligible
  • Students must meet Psychology Department requirements for Directed Research
  • Strong interest in human behavioral experimental research
  • Prior research and computer experience is desirable
  • Only highly motivated students should inquire

Terms offered: fall, spring and summer


Number of Students: 1 or 2