Constriction of environmental space and the behavioral response to the dopamine agonist quinpirole
The present study examines the influence of size of testing environment on the behavioral profile seen following injection of the dopamine D 2 receptor agonist quinpirole (0.5 mg/kg, n = 16) or saline (n = 16). All rats were tested in a counterbalanced order in both a small and large environment. Oral (licking) behaviors were observed exclusively in the small environment and only in drug-treated rats; moreover, quinpirole increased rearing in the small but not large environment. Other behaviors-sniffing, face and body grooming-were affected by quinpirole but not in an environment-dependent manner. It is concluded that limiting environmental space promotes emergence of oral responding under quinpirole. The self-directed nature of this licking (paw- and tail-licking) may reflect a hierarchical transformation of quinpirole-induced hyperactivity from exploration of space to investigation of body parts.
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