Trent Bullock

Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Lisa Baker

Second Advisor

Dr. Cynthia J. Pietras

Third Advisor

Dr. Alan Poling


Drug abuse; drug discrimination; synthetic cathinones; 4-methylmethcathinone (4-MMC); 3, 4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MPDV)

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


Psychoactive “bath salts” represent a continuing drug abuse problem. The synthetic cathinones, 3, 4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) and 4-methylmethcathinone (4-MMC) are popular constituents of “bath salts” in the United States and the United Kingdom, respectively. Addiction to these substances has proven difficult to treat, possibly requiring targeted therapeutics. Drug discrimination is a preclinical assay that may aid in treatment development. Thus far, two-lever (drug vs no drug) discrimination studies have exhibited asymmetrical substitution patterns between 4-MMC and MDPV. Therefore, a three-lever discrimination method was employed in which 12 male Sprague-Dawley rats were trained to discriminate 0.5 mg/kg MDPV, 2.0 mg/kg 4-MMC, and saline vehicle. The discrimination was established within 39.8(± 3.9 S. E. M.) training sessions. Both MDPV and 4-MMC produced excellent stimulus control and dose-dependent increases in responding on the conditionappropriate lever. Response rate remained relatively stable across training and test sessions although was slightly higher under saline conditions. The present results indicate that 4-MMC and MDPV may produce substantially different subjective effects. Serotonergic mechanisms may contribute to these differential effects, but further experimentation is needed. The present data support a body of evidence that the three-lever drug discrimination design may be more sensitive to detecting differences between pharmacologically related substances.