Pflügers Archiv

, Volume 365, Issue 1, pp 37–47 | Cite as

Habituation and conditioning of the defence reactions and their cardiovascular components in cats and dogs

  • Jane Martin
  • Colin J. Sutherland
  • Andrzej W. Zbrożyna


Cardiovascular and behavioural responses elicited by novel, noxious or aversive stimuli have been studied in dogs and cats. Hindlimb blood flow, heart rate and arterial blood pressure increased in dogs when an orienting response was elicited by a novel stimulus (a sound). Similar cardiovascular responses occurred in dogs to mild noxious stimulus and in cats displaying a threatening posture when confronted by a dog. The cardiovascular components of the orienting response to a sound habituated with repetition of the sound. In two dogs however sensitization (increase) of the response occurred with repetition of the sound. The cardiovascular response in cats confronted by a dog was modified by repetition of the confrontations: the vasodilation in the muscles waned and eventually was replaced by vasoconstriction while the cardiac acceleration and pressor response persisted. The threatening response was the most persistent. The modification of the behavioural and cardiovascular aspect of the response was not developing in parallel. The cardiovascular pattern was altered before any apparent changes of the behavioural pattern occurred. The cardiovascular responses to the noxious stimulus in dogs and cardiovascular components of the defence reaction in cats were readily conditioned to a sound. The possible role of the modification of the cardiovascular pattern in defence reactions in pathogenesis of hypertension is discussed.

Key words

Cardiovascular Habituation Conditioning Defence reactions 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jane Martin
    • 1
  • Colin J. Sutherland
    • 1
  • Andrzej W. Zbrożyna
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Physiology, Medical SchoolUniversity of BirminghamBirminghamUK

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