Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Stacey C. Sigmon


Psychomotor stimulant abuse is a significant public health problem. While many individuals experiment with stimulants, there is marked variability in individuals' behavioral and subjective response to these drugs and these differences may be associated with their risk for abuse. One characteristic shown to be associated with drug abuse is sensation seeking, defined as the seeking of novel sensations and experiences and the willingness to take risks for the sake of such experiences. While observational studies have shown that individuals with elevated sensation seeking are more likely to report stimulant use and abuse, less clear is whether subjective and behavioral response to acute stimulant administration may vary as a function of sensation seeking status. We recently completed an outpatient laboratory study in which 37 healthy adults received repeated opportunities to sample and choose between d-amphetamine (d-AMPH; 5, 10, 20 mg/70kg) or placebo. That study provided an opportunity to examine associations between sensation seeking and d-AMPH choice and subjective response under rigorous double-blind experimental conditions. The Zuckerman Sensation Seeking Scale V was administered at intake, providing a Total sensation seeking score as well as four subscales (i.e., Experience Seeking, Disinhibition, Thrill and Adventure Seeking, Boredom Susceptibility). We hypothesized that elevated sensation seeking at intake would be associated with increased preference for d-AMPH over placebo in subsequent choice sessions, as well as greater positive d-AMPH subjective effects. Among males, increased baseline sensation seeking was associated with increased d-AMPH choice and positive subjective effects at the 5 and 10 mg/70 kg doses. Among females we found no significant associations between sensation seeking and d-AMPH choice or subjective effects. Finally, when the association between sensation seeking and other baseline characteristics was examined, there was a significant positive association with lifetime drug use as well as impulsivity. Taken together, our data suggest that elevated sensation seeking in males may be associated with increased sensitivity to d-AMPH reinforcement and positive subjective effects, suggesting increased vulnerability for stimulant use and abuse.



Number of Pages

54 p.

Included in

Psychology Commons