Nicotine has been demonstrated to enhance learning processes. The present experiments extend these results to examine the effects of nicotine on acquisition and consolidation of contextual and cued fear conditioning, and the duration of nicotine's enhancement of conditioned fear. C57BL/6 mice were trained with two pairings of an auditory CS and a foot shock US. Multiple doses of nicotine were given before or immediately after training and on testing day (0.0, 0.050, 0.125, 0.250, and 0.375mg/kg, i.p). Freezing to both the context and auditory CS was measured 24h after training and again 1 week after training. Mice did not receive nicotine for the 1-week retest. Nicotine (0.125 and 0.250mg/kg) given on both training and testing days enhanced freezing to the context at 24h. In addition, elevated freezing to the context was seen 1 week post-training in mice previously treated with 0.125 and 0.250mg/kg nicotine. Thus, nicotine-treated mice did show elevated levels of freezing when retested 1 week later, even though no nicotine was administered at the 1-week retest. Mice that received nicotine on training day or testing day only and mice that received nicotine with mecamylamine, a nicotinic receptor antagonist, were not different from saline-treated mice. In addition, post-training administration of nicotine did not enhance fear conditioning. The present results indicate that nicotine enhancement of contextual fear conditioning depends on administration of nicotine on training and test days but results in a long-lasting enhancement of memories of contextual fear conditioning that remains in the absence of nicotine.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Behavioral Neuroscience