Sensitivity of pentylenetetrazol discrimination increased by a stimulus fading technique

Cynthia M. Harris, Michael W. Emmett-Oglesby, Harbans Lal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The interoceptive stimulus produced by pentylenetetrazol (PTZ) is pharmacologically similar to anxiety and is used in a behavioral assay for anxiety-related stimuli (the PTZ model of anxiety). The stimulus fading technique was tested as a method to increase the sensitivity of this assay. Rats were trained with food-reward to press one lever after injection of PTZ and an alternate lever after saline. Rats initially learned the discrimination at a PTZ dose of 20 mg/kg. They were then trained with sequentially lower doses until they reliably discriminated a PTZ dose of 10 mg/kg. Substitution test with other doses and drugs showed that, after the fading procedure, dose-response curves were shifted to lower doses for PTZ, Ro 5-3663, and nicotine. Similarly, the dose of diazepam required to block the low dose of PTZ was lower than that required to block the higher dose of PTZ. These results indicated that the sensitivity of the discrimination was enhanced in rats trained to discriminate a lower dose of PTZ. Doses of nikethamide, cocaine, and yohimbine that did not substitute for the higher dose of PTZ also did not substitute for the lower dose. These data suggest that rats can be trained to discriminate a low dose of PTZ by the stimulus fading technique. Moreover, they suggest that this training method does not compromise the specificity of the discrimination.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)460-464
Number of pages5
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1989


  • Cocaine
  • Diazepam
  • Nicotine
  • Nikethamide
  • Yohimbine


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