The effect of amphetamine on Kamin blocking and overshadowing

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Schizophrenic patients show deficits on stimulus salience tasks such as latent inhibition and blocking, which measure the ability to disregard irrelevant stimuli. Amphetaminetreated animals show similar deficits in analogous tasks, thereby providing a model of the stimulus-selection deficits observed in schizophrenia. In two experiments, the effect of the indirect dopamine (DA) agonist D-amphetamine sulphate (1.0 mg/kg, i.p.) on Kamin blocking and overshadowing were examined and compared, in the rat, using the conditioned lick suppression procedure. The aim was to provide some insight into the behavioural and pharmacological mechanisms underlying amphetamine effects in both paradigms. In experiment 1, it was shown that amphetamine selectively disrupted Kamin blocking, when given either at stage 2 alone, or at both stages of the task. In experiment 2, amphetamine treatment significantly abolished Kamin blocking and overshadowing, when administered prior to compound conditioning in both tasks. These data suggest that dopamine may play a critical role in mediating performance in tasks measuring stimulus salience processes. The results are discussed in the framework of the role of DA in stimulus-selection performance. Behavioural Pharmacology 14:315-322 © 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

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