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Chronic neuroleptic effects on spatial reversal learning in monkeys


Cebus apella monkeys were chronically administered the antipsychotic drug fluphenazine decanoate for periods ranging from 3.5 to 5.5 years. In the present study, four of these monkeys and two controls were tested for cognitive abilities on a spatial learning task, which consisted of an original discrimination and four reversals of that discrimination. No effect of fluphenazine administration was seen in the rate of learning the original discrimination, but the carryover of learning across discrimination reversals was significantly reduced by fluphenazine. After overtraining on the original discrimination, the controls showed the normal difficulty in learning the first reversal. The fluphenazine-treated monkeys showed no such disruption. On subsequent reversals, the controls showed continually improving performance, so that on the third and fourth reversals they had near-perfect scores. On the other hand, the fluphenazine-treated monkeys showed no change over the four reversals. Unlike normal monkeys, their learning did not improve with practice. Although simple forms of learning seem to be relatively unaffected by chronic fluphenazine administration, more complex learning is disrupted.

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Correspondence to Edward D. Levin.

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Levin, E.D., Gunne, L.M. Chronic neuroleptic effects on spatial reversal learning in monkeys. Psychopharmacology 97, 496–500 (1989).

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Key words

  • Fluphenazine
  • Learning
  • Monkeys