Quantal detection and homogeneous sensitivity in a pentylenetetrazol discrimination

C. M. Harris, M. W. Emmett-Oglesby, D. A. Mathis, H. Lal

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11 Scopus citations


Rats were trained to discriminate pentylenetetrazol (PTZ, 20 mg/kg) from saline in a two-lever operant task. Correct lever presses were reinforced with food under the control of a fixed ratio 10 schedule. In tests of the effect of PTZ dose on level selection, rats selected the PTZ lever in a dose-dependent manner, with peak latency at the approximate ED50 dose (10 mg/kg). Rats usually pressed only the selected lever, regardless of dose, indicating that lever selection was a quantal (or bimodal) function of stimulus intensity. Lever biases observed during training sessions did not predict the performance of individual rats in tests with the ED50 dose. In three independent trials with this intermediate dosage, the rats selecting the PTZ lever varied from trial to trial, suggesting that rats detecting this dose did not form a stable subgroup. The pattern of lever selections across these three trials was not significantly different from that predicted by a model in which all subjects shared the same probability for detecting the drug stimulus. These results demonstrate that lever selection in a two-lever drugdiscrimination task can be quantal in nature, and suggest that rats trained with PTZ, 20 mg/kg, are homogeneous in sensitivity to this stimulus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-187
Number of pages5
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 1988


  • Drug discrimination
  • Operant behavior
  • Pentylenetetrazol


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