The present study determined whether anxiolytics such as diazepam (DZP), the benzodiazepine (BZD) receptor-selective agonist abecarnil (ABC), or the 5-HT1A agent buspirone (BUS) would increase the response latency of rats to switch-off electrical brain stimulation (EBS) of the periaqueductal gray (PAG). We also investigated the effects of pentylenetetrazole (PTZ), a purported anxiogenic. Given acutely, DZP (2.5 and 5 mg/kg, ip) and ABC (0.5 and 1 mg/kg, ip) increased response latency. The BZD receptor antagonist flumazenil (10.0 mg/kg, ip) blocked these effects. Increasing the frequency of EBS reversed the effects of DZP and ABC, suggesting that motor disruption did not account for the increase in latency seen with these drugs. Given acutely, BUS (10.0 mg/kg, ip) also increased response latency, which was likely due to motor disruption because it was not reversed by increasing the frequency of EBS. When BUS (2.5 mg/kg, ip) was given every 8 h for 3 days, an increase in latency was also obtained, which was reversible by increasing the frequency of EBS. Finally, PTZ (10 and 20 mg/kg, ip) shortened the latency to respond. These results (1) suggest that DZP, ABC, and chronic BUS attenuate, whereas PTZ potentiates, the negative reinforcing stimulus (NRS) induced by PAG stimulation, and (2) support the hypothesis that the switch-off procedure accurately detects anxiolytic and anxiogenic drugs.
- Negative reinforcement
- Switch-off response