, Volume 84, Issue 1, pp 16–19 | Cite as

Effects of some volatile sedative-hypnotics on punished behavior

  • Jeffrey M. Witkin
Original Investigations


Lever-press responses of rats were established under a schedule in which punished and unpunished responding alternated. Every 30th response produced food (unpunished responding) during one schedule component, while every tenth response produced both food and shock (punished responding) during an alternate schedule component. Each schedule component was correlated with a different visual stimulus. Unpunished behavior was characterized by high sustained rates which followed brief pauses after food delivery. Punished behavior occurred at less than 10% the rate of unpunished behavior. Oral administration of diazepam, ethchlorvynol, chloral hydrate, tertiary-butanol, and ethanol all produced marked dose-related increases in punished behavior at doses that decreased or had little effect on unpunished responding. Potency estimates for increasing punished responding varied over a 400-fold range. The potency ranking was diazepam > ethchlorvynol > chloral hydrate > tertiary-butanol > ethanol. Higher doses of all drugs decreased unpunished responding with relative potencies comparable to those found for doses producing maximal increases in punished responding. increases in punished behavior appear to be a characteristic feature of drugs with sedative-hypnotic properties.

Key words

Tertiary-butanol Chloral hydrate Diazepam Ethanol Ethchlorvynol Sedative-hypnotics Punished behavior Rats 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeffrey M. Witkin
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PharmacologyUniversity of North CarolinaChapel HillUSA

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