Document Type

Honors Paper

Publication Date

Spring 5-2-2008

Abstract

This study investigated the effects of nicotine on memory and learning in adolescent and adult male Fischer-344 rats. Rats were given 0.2 mg/kg/day of either nicotine or saline chronically for 2 weeks and were tested in the Morris water maze as adolescents (Phase 1) and then again 4 months later as adults (Phase 2). There were 4 main groups: nicotine/nicotine, nicotine/saline, saline/nicotine, and saline/saline. In Phase 2 rats were tested for c-Fos and BrdU expression in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus. Behavioral data indicated that as adults, rats given nicotine were significantly improved at the water maze task compared to rats given saline. Impairments of the S/N group suggest performance in the maze is state dependent upon the nicotine. An increase in c-Fos expression was seen in the saline rats, and no BrdU expression was seen in either group. The behavioral results imply that low doses of nicotine improve learning and memory in adult rats. This provides support for studies investigating nicotine as a therapeutic agent for diseases affecting cognition, such as Alzheimer’s.

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The views expressed in this paper are solely those of the author.