Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 113–129 | Cite as

Defence, attack, and flight elicited by electrical stimulation of the hypothalamus of the cat

  • Jerram L. Brown
  • Robert W. Hunsperger
  • H. Enger Rosvold


  1. 1.

    Affective behaviour patterns produced by electrical stimulation of the hypothalamus were studied in unanaesthetized, freely-moving cats. Bipolar stimulation with coaxial electrodes and small cathode was used to elicit defence, attack or flight. The development of these responses was studied by varying stimulation strength. In some experiments a stuffed animal was introduced in order to study the reactions of the cat to changes in the environment during stimulation.

  2. 2.

    The following responses were evoked at threshold intensity: (i) growling reaction; (ii) hissing reaction; (iii) two types of flight — type a preceded by hastily looking to and fro as if in search of an exit, type b preceded by inspection of surroundings, in most cases associated with sniffing.

  3. 3.

    Increasing stimulation 1.5 times threshold often yielded combined patterns. At points yielding the growling reaction a defence response in which growls alternated with hisses was obtained. The points yielding flight type a sometimes yielded hissing followed by flight. Increasing stimulation at hissing points yielded either a defence reaction or the combined effect hissing-flight.

  4. 4.

    The growling reactions were obtained from the tuber region. The hissing responses were obtained from points above the tuber. The flight reactions, type a, were produced from the intermediate zone extending from the level of the preoptic area to the mamillary bodies and type b from the caudo-lateral hypothalamus.

  5. 5.

    The reactions of the cats to a dummy during stimulation varied depending on the type of response which had been evoked in the absence of the dummy. The defence reaction was converted into threatening and striking of the dummy, the combined effects into threatening, striking or biting, culminating in sudden flight. The dummy was ignored during stimulation of points yielding flight type a, but examined by sniffing during stimulation of points yielding flight type b.


Key Words

Emotional behaviour Hypothalamus Electrical stimulation Cat 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1969

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jerram L. Brown
    • 1
    • 2
  • Robert W. Hunsperger
    • 1
  • H. Enger Rosvold
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PhysiologyUniversity of ZürichSwitzerland
  2. 2.Center for Brain Research and Department of BiologyUniversity of RochesterRochesterUSA
  3. 3.Laboratory of Psychology, Section on NeuropsychologyNational Institute of Mental HealthBethesdaUSA

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