Why do people smoke?

There are a million reasons not to smoke - mostly health related - but very few GOOD reasons to smoke. Maybe you look and feel cool. Maybe you think the nicotine buzz is fun. But that buzz is pretty mild, nicotine is not heroin. So what's driving smoking behavior? In our laboratory, we've found that nicotine has this sort of insidious effect on other stimuli - it makes them more reinforcing.

This has all kinds of implications for smoking and tobacco dependence - because most smokers don't think of themselves as addicted until they try to quit. But imagine you've been taking a drug for years and years. The entire time you've been taking that drug, all the little things in your life that are good are processed as just slightly better by your brain. Now take that drug away. You may not have the same kinds of withdrawal symptoms as a heroin addict, but you would be kind of grumpy, right? This part of our research program investigates how nicotine increases the salience of other reinforcers, and how those effects can translate to tobacco dependence.

Here is a list of recent publications on nicotine:


    Current members of our research team, including collaborators, graduate and undergraduate students as well as former students who have gone on to bigger and better things.

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    Recent Publications

    Some of the recent studies we have published on the psychopharmacology of substance dependence.

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    Research Opportunities

    Are you interested in addictions or behavioral neuroscience? We are usually accepting motivated and hard working students who want to participate in laboratory research.

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