Effects of clonidine on habituation and sensitization of acoustic startle in normal, decerebrate and locus coeruleus lesioned rats

Michael Davis, Jesse M. Cedarbaum, George K. Aghajanian, David S. Gendelman

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107 Scopus citations

Abstract

Rats were presented with startle-eliciting tones after injection of clonidine (0.01, 0.02, 0.04, 0.08, 0.5, 1.0 or 2.0 mg/kg) or saline. Clonidine potently depressed startle amplitude and the effect was monotonically related to dose. Pretreatment with piperoxane (10 mg/kg) antagonized this effect but pretreatment with phentolamine (10 mg/kg) did not. Clonidine still depressed startle in acutely decerebrate rats and in rats with bilateral ablation of the locus coeruleus. Clonidine did not interfere with sensitization to background noise and did not interfere with the ability to startle but instead improved within-session habituation. The results represent one of the few instances in the literature where a drug appears to improve habituation without directly interfering with the ability to respond. The possibility that clonidine might affect startle by stimulating central epinephrine rather than norepinephrine receptors is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-253
Number of pages11
JournalPsychopharmacology
Volume51
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1977
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Clonidine
  • Decerebrate
  • Habituation
  • Locus coeruleus
  • Phentolamine
  • Piperoxane
  • Sensitization
  • Startle
  • α-Adrenergic antagonists

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