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A biphasic action of central cholinergic stimulation on behavioral arousal in the rat

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The effect of the cholinomimetic, pilocarpine, on behavioral arousal as measured by locomotor activity was investigated in the rat. Pilocarpine first produced a period of behavioral inhibition, the intensity and duration of which was dose-related. After the inhibitory phase, a period of marked psychomotor excitation was observed. Pretreatment with scopolamine prevented both the inhibitory and excitatory effects of pilocarpine. Scopolamine administered at the onset of the rebound hyperactive period, however, significantly potentiated this excitatory phase. The anticholinesterase, physostigmine, also had a biphasic effect on behavioral arousal. The results are interpreted as indicating induction of central adrenergic activity in response to central cholinergic stimulation.

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Supported in part by United States Public Health Service Grant MH-8501 from the National Institute of Mental Health to Byron A. Campbell. The authors gratefully acknowledge the encouragement and helpful criticism of Byron A. Campbell throughout all phases of this research.

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Fibiger, H.C., Lynch, G.S. & Cooper, H.P. A biphasic action of central cholinergic stimulation on behavioral arousal in the rat. Psychopharmacologia 20, 366–382 (1971). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00403568

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  • Locomotor Activity
  • Body Temperature
  • Pilocarpine
  • Physostigmine
  • Scopolamine
  • Rebound