Honors Program

Honors in Psychology

Date of Award


Thesis Professor(s)

Russell W. Brown

Thesis Professor Department



One of the most common childhood disorders, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) places individuals at a higher risk for nicotine (NIC) dependence. Approximately 37.2% of individuals with ADHD currently smoke compared to the 18.3% of individuals with no record of mental illness. Methylphenidate (MPH; Trade name Ritalin) is the most commonly prescribed treatment for ADHD. Research regarding the synergistic effects of MPH and NIC, however, is divided. Some research indicates that MPH may enhance susceptibility to NIC effects, whereas other studies report that MPH may inhibit sensitization to NIC. The present study examines the effects of pre-exposure to MPH (1.0 mg/kg) on the behavioral effects of NIC (0.5 mg/kg) in adolescent male and female Sprague-Dawley rats. We used behavioral sensitization and conditioned place preference (CPP) on animals postnatal day (P)28-50; this is defined as adolescence in rats. For behavioral sensitization, results revealed a significant interaction between day of testing, drug pre-exposure, and adolescent drug treatment (p = .004). On the other hand, CPP results revealed a significant interaction between adolescent drug treatment and drug pre-exposure (p = .031). Findings suggest that pre-exposure to MPH reduces behavioral sensitization to NIC during adolescence. In addition, results indicate that MPH enhances NIC CPP in adolescent male and female rats, suggesting that MPH may enhance the rewarding effect of NIC.

Document Type

Honors Thesis - Open Access

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
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