Spiroperidol, but not eticlopride or aripiprazole, produces gradual increases in descent latencies in the bar test in rats

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Rats repeatedly exposed to the bar test following injections with a dopamine D2-like receptor antagonist such as haloperidol show increased descent latencies, suggesting that contextual stimuli may lose their ability to elicit approach and other responses. Here, we showed that rats took progressively longer to initiate descent from a horizontal bar across sessions following daily intraperitoneal treatment (paired group) with the D2-like receptor antagonist, spiroperidol (0.125 and 0.25 mg/kg), but not in the control group that received 0.25 mg/kg in their home cage and testing following saline. When both groups were tested following an injection of spiroperidol or following saline, a sensitized and a conditioned increase in descent latency, respectively, were observed in the paired but not in the unpaired group. No evidence of sensitization or conditioning was found with the substituted benzamide compound, eticlopride (0.15–0.5 mg/kg), or the D2-like receptor partial agonist, aripiprazole (0.25–0.5 mg/kg). The different effects of these agents on learning may be related to different region-specific affinities for dopamine receptors or differences in receptor dissociation profiles. We suggest that the behavioural changes observed in spiroperidol-treated rats may reflect inverse incentive learning.

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