Nicotine Produces a Within-Subject Enhancement of Contextual Fear Conditioning in C57BL/6 Mice Independent of Sex

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Nicotine enhances learning including contextual fear conditioning. The present study extends previous work on nicotine and conditioned fear to examine the nature of nicotine's enhancement of contextual fear conditioning and sex differences in contextual fear conditioning in C57BL/6 mice using a within-subjects design. Mice were trained by pairing of an auditory stimulus of 80 dB, 6 cps train of broad-band clicks conditioned stimulus (CS) with a 2 sec., 0.35 mA shock unconditioned stimulus (US). Twenty-four hours later mice were tested for freezing in the original context, and one hour later mice were retested in the same context. A 0.5 mg/kg dose of nicotine was given either for three conditions: (1) before training, testing, and retesting; (2) before training and retesting; and (3) before retesting only. The use of a within-subjects design allowed for testing if nicotine would produce state-dependent deficits in contextual fear conditioning. Nicotine did enhance contextual fear conditioning in the groups that received nicotine for both training and testing. Nicotine, however, did not alter freezing when given on training but not testing or testing but not training. No sex differences, however, existed for conditioning or for nicotine's effects on conditioning. These results suggest that nicotine enhanced acquisition and retrieval processes but did not produce state-dependent deficits when administered just for training or just for testing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)124-132
Number of pages9
JournalIntegrative Physiological and Behavioral Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology


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