Affective startle probe methodology was used to examine the effects of nicotine administration and deprivation on emotional processes among individuals carrying at least one s allele versus those with the l/l genotype of the 5-Hydroxytryptamine (Serotonin) Transporter Linked Polymorphic Region, 5-HTTLPR in the promoter region of the serotonin transporter gene [solute ligand carrier family 6 member A4 (SLC6A4) or SERT]. Smokers (n=84) completed four laboratory sessions crossing deprivation (12-h deprived vs. non-deprived) with nicotine spray (nicotine vs. placebo). Participants viewed affective pictures (positive, negative, neutral) while acoustic startle probes were administered. We found that smokers with the l/l genotype showed significantly greater suppression of the startle response when provided with nicotine vs. placebo than those with the s/s or s/l genotypes. The results suggest that l/l smokers, who may have higher levels of the serotonin transporter and more rapid synaptic serotonin clearance, experience substantial reduction in activation of the defensive system when exposed to nicotine.
- Startle probe
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology