, Volume 107, Issue 1, pp 55–60 | Cite as

Effects of drugs of abuse on acquisition of behavioral chains in squirrel monkeys

  • Eric B. Evans
  • Galen R. Wenger
Original Investigations


The acute effects of various drugs of abuse on the acquisition of chains of behavior were assessed in squirrel monkeys trained to respond on three keys for food. Each new session the monkeys acquired a different four-response chain by responding sequentially on three keys in the presence of four different stimuli. Incorrect responses inactivated the keys and darkened the chamber for 10 s (time-out). Dose-effect curves were obtained by administering the drugs intramuscularly before the session and recording their effects on the rate and accuracy of responding. Cocaine,d-amphetamine, and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol all decreased the accuracy and rate of responding within the dose range of 0.56–3 mg/kg. The highest dose of morphine tested (3 mg/kg) produced parallel decreases in the accuracy and rate of responding in some monkeys but had no effect at lower doses. These drugs decreased within-session accuracy though clearly acquisition did occur, but high doses of caffeine (30 and 56 mg/kg) prevented acquisition and recovery of performance and, furthermore, at 30 mg/kg these effects were observed in the absence of decreases in the rate of responding. The drugs of abuse tested all produced dose-related decreases in both the accuracy and rate of responding, and the decreases in accuracy were primarily observed only at doses that also decreased response rates. Therefore, based on these results from nonhuman primates each of these drugs has the potential to alter learning particularly when doses that disrupt other behaviors are administered.

Key words

Behavior Cocaine d-Amphetamine Caffeine Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol Morphine Squirrel monkeys Repeated acquisition Response chains Learning 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eric B. Evans
    • 1
  • Galen R. Wenger
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Medical College of VirginiaVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA
  2. 2.Department of Pharmacology and ToxicologyUniversity of Arkansas for Medical SciencesLittle RockUSA

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