Nicotine self-administration research: the legacy of Steven R. Goldberg and implications for regulation, health policy, and research

Jack E. Henningfield, Tracy T. Smith, Bethea A. Kleykamp, Reginald V. Fant, Eric C. Donny

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background and rationale: Steven R. Goldberg was a pioneering behavioral pharmacologist whose intravenous drug self-administration studies advanced the understanding of conditioned stimuli and schedules of reinforcement as determinants of pattern and persistence of drug-seeking behavior, and in particular, the importance of nicotine in tobacco use. His passing in 2014 led to invitations to contribute articles to psychopharmacology dedicated to his work. Objectives: The objectives of this review are to summarize and put into historical perspective Goldberg’s contributions to elucidate the reinforcing effects of nicotine and to summarize the implications of his research for medication development, tobacco regulation, and potential tobacco control policy options. This includes a review of intravenous nicotine self-administration research from the 1960s to 2016. Results: Goldberg’s application of behavioral pharmacology methods to investigate nicotine reinforcement and the influence of schedule of reinforcement and conditioned stimuli on nicotine administration contributed to the conclusions of the US National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the Surgeon General, that nicotine met the criteria as a dependence-producing drug and cigarette smoking as a prototypic drug dependency or “addiction.” Equally important, this work has been systematically extended to other species and applied to address a range of factors relevant to tobacco use, medication development, regulation, and public health policy. Conclusions: Steven R. Goldberg was a pioneering scientist whose systematic application of the science of behavioral pharmacology advanced the understanding of tobacco and nicotine use and contributed to the scientific foundation for tobacco product regulation and potential public health tobacco control policy development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3829-3848
Number of pages20
Issue number23-24
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016


  • Antagonists
  • Behavioral pharmacology
  • Intravenous
  • Nicotine
  • Punishment
  • Reinforcement
  • Second-order schedule
  • Self-administration
  • Sensory
  • Tobacco

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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