Date of Defense


Date of Graduation



Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Lisa Baker

Second Advisor

Charles Ide

Third Advisor

Michael Berquist II


behavioral pharmacology, drug discrimination, synthetic cathinone, mephedrone


Consumption of a prominent synthetic cathinone known as mephedrone (4-methylmethcathinone) has become a popular alternative to club drugs such as ecstasy, cocaine, and methamphetamine within the past decade. The pharmacological mechanisms that contribute to its subjective effects have yet to be fully characterized and are thus warranted for investigation. The present study employed drug discrimination methods to train eight male Sprague-Dawley rats to discriminate injections of 3.0 mg/kg mephedrone from saline. Various doses of mephedrone, 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), d-amphetamine (AMPH), cocaine, (+)-methamphetamine (METH), and 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA) were investigated for their ability to substitute for the stimulus cues of the training drug. Full substitution was attained from 1.0 and 3.0 mg/kg mephedrone as well as 3.0 mg/kg MDMA. MDPV, AMPH, cocaine, and METH all produced partial substitution for the training stimulus. These data suggest that the interoceptive stimulus cues produced by mephedrone at 3.0 mg/kg may be predominantly mediated by serotonergic mechanisms. Future investigations should employ similar methods to perform substitution tests with monoaminergic receptor agonists and antagonists. This study contributes a unique investigation into the pharmacological basis of mephedrone’s in vivo actions and provides data for interpretation.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Open Access