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Poster E68

Conditioned place preferences to nicotine in a human virtual reality task

Poster Session E - Monday, April 15, 2024, 2:30 – 4:30 pm EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Aishwarya Benzy1 (, Skyler Sklenarik1, Lukas Klin1, Erin Curran1, Christopher Burrows2, Robert Astur1; 1University of Connecticut, 2Texas A&M University

The escalating prevalence of electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) use among young adults has emerged as a pressing public health concern, encompassing adverse consequences like nicotine addiction and related health risks. This study aims to investigate whether undergraduate students, characterized by differing levels of nicotine use, demonstrate a Conditioned Place Preference (CPP) for a virtual room linked to nicotine lozenge administration, contrasting it with a neutral room associated with a placebo lozenge. The underlying hypothesis suggests that participants engaging in nicotine use would spend more time in, report greater subjective enjoyment in, and explicitly prefer the VR room previously paired with nicotine administration compared to a neutral room. Over the course of a week, each participant underwent three sessions: initial sessions involved the administration of nicotine or placebo lozenges in designated VR rooms, while the third session allowed participants to explore both VR rooms without lozenge administration. Our results indicate that nicotine users demonstrate a preference for the virtual reality environment paired to nicotine lozenge administration. This finding contributes to quantifying the strength of CPP in relation to e-cigarettes, potentially establishing a predictive relationship between CPP strength and real-life nicotine abuse. This study establishes a crucial foundation for subsequent research, regulatory initiatives, and public health interventions aimed at addressing the escalating prevalence of e-cigarette use among young adults.

Topic Area: LONG-TERM MEMORY: Other


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April 13–16  |  2024