Clarifying the relationship between impulsive delay discounting and nicotine dependence.
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Impulsive delayed reward discounting (DRD) has been linked to nicotine dependence, but with some inconsistency. This may be related to the considerable variability in the literature with regard to the DRD assessments used, particularly in the case of the reward magnitudes assessed. In addition, previous studies have often not considered concurrent substance use when examining the relationship between DRD and nicotine dependence. The current study sought to further clarify the relationship between DRD and nicotine dependence by characterizing DRD across diverse reward magnitudes and incorporating other substance use. Daily smokers (N = 933) were assessed for DRD preferences across nine reward magnitudes (delayed reward range: $2.50-$850), comorbid substance use, and relevant demographic variables (age, education, income). A significant large effect size magnitude effect was found for DRD, reflecting steeper discounting for smaller delayed rewards, but significant correlations across magnitudes also suggested similar relative levels of discounting. Principal components analysis (PCA) was used to generate a single latent index of discounting across all magnitudes that accounted for 69% of the total variance. In correlation and regression analyses, steeper composite DRD was significantly associated with nicotine dependence severity. This relationship remained statistically significant after incorporating demographic variables and alcohol and illicit drug use. These findings provide evidence of a specific link between impulsive DRD and nicotine dependence and reveal that this association is robust across a broad range of monetary rewards. The study also demonstrates the utility of using PCA to generate latent indices of delay discounting across multiple magnitudes of delayed reward.
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