Effects of nicotine exposure and anxiety on motivation for reward and gambling-like cues under reward uncertainty.

Reward uncertainty is a common characteristic of gambling and may powerfully enhance attraction to gambling-related cues, thus promoting maladaptive gambling behaviors in susceptible individuals. The co-occurrence of gambling disorder with tobacco use disorder (60.4%) suggests a common mechanism for their pathology, and comorbid anxiety (41.3%) might further promote the maintenance of these behaviors. However, it is unknown how nicotine or anxiety might contribute to cue and reward attraction, or promote disordered gambling behavior. In the present study, we investigated the effects of nicotine (0.4 mg/kg, SC) on the desire for uncertain rewards and their cues in male and female Sprague–Dawley rats. During an autoshaping task, rats learned to associate a lever + tone cue with the delivery of sucrose pellet rewards under either certain or uncertain (probability and magnitude) reward conditions. Subsequently, we tested the ability of gambling-like cues to serve as a conditioned reinforcer, and to promote motivation for sucrose rewards during a progressive ratio task. Finally, anxiety behavior was measured to examine its interaction with nicotine and uncertainty. Here, we found that nicotine enhanced attraction to the magazine under certain but not uncertain reward conditions, and increased cue-triggered behaviors. Conversely, in the progressive ratio task, exposure to uncertain conditions and nicotine enhanced motivation for reward, compared with certain conditions. These results suggest that nicotine may interact with both certain and uncertain reward conditions to increase cue-triggered behavior and enhance motivation for rewards, providing possible insight into the comorbid relationship between pathological gambling and tobacco use. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)