Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

David J. Drobes, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Thomas H. Brandon, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Mark S. Goldman, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Geoffrey F. Potts, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Lynn Wecker, Ph.D.


Anhedonia, Cognition, Event-related potentials, Neuroscience, Pharmacology, Smoking


Research on addictive behavior has traditionally emphasized the role that primary reinforcing effects of drugs of abuse plays in the development and maintenance of dependence. However, contemporary behavioral economic theory and animal models of nicotine dependence suggest the need for greater attention to the impact that response to alternative rewards may have on smoking behavior. The present study sought to investigate the impact of nicotine withdrawal on self-report, behavioral and neural indices of motivation, immediate response to rewards and the capacity to learn and modify behavior in response to positive and negative feedback. Heavy smokers (n = 48) completed two laboratory sessions following overnight deprivation, during which they smoked either nicotinized or denicotinized cigarettes. At each session, they completed a reward prediction and feedback learning task while electro-encephalographic recordings were obtained, as well as resting state recordings which were used to extract global indices of motivational state. Results confirmed that nicotine withdrawal produced an avoidant motivational state. This effect was strongly related to numerous indices of smoking motivation. Exploratory analyses also revealed numerous moderators of these effects. Behavioral data from tasks provided some support for the impact of nicotine withdrawal on reward and feedback processing, though minimal impact was observed for neural indices. Together, results confirm the manifestation of a broad-spanning impact of nicotine withdrawal on motivational state, but effects on specific reward systems remains unknown. Future research should examine the impact of nicotine withdrawal on other reward-related constructs to better delineate these effects.