Reinforcement schedules and extrapolations to humans from animals in behavioral pharmacology

  • Leonard Cook
  • Jerry Sepinwall
Part of the FASEB Monographs book series (FASEBM, volume 4)


Behavior controlled by various schedules of reinforcement is useful for characterizing drugs as well as for analyzing the mechanisms of action of their effects on behavior. Conditioned avoidance techniques have been useful for studying neuroleptics and for predicting their clinical antipsychotic activity; the possible involvement of dopaminergic mechanisms in the effects of neuroleptics on avoidance behavior is discussed. Tricyclic antidepressant agents have been studied in assays involving interactions with other agents, such as cocaine, amphetamine and tetrabenazine. One type of operant behavior, Sidman avoidance, has been used as a particularly sensitive assay for such drug interactions. Another schedule, in which “observing” responses in pigeons are measured, seems to provide a method for studying antidepressants without involving drug interaction phenomena. For tricyclic compounds, facilitation of observing responses and weak potency of conditioned avoidance inhibition constitute a pharmacological profile that seems to have some predictive value for clinical imipramine-like antidepressant activity. “Conflict” (punishment) schedules have been useful for predicting antianxiety activity in man. Although the degree of anticonflict effect observed is consistent with Dews’ rate dependency hypothesis, this principle does not fully account for the observed drug effects. In the conflict model, the actions of benzodiazepines differ in drug-naive versus drug-experienced animals. Experiments with parachlorophenylalanine have not yet provided clear support for the postulated role of serotonin in related phenomena.— Cook, L., And J. Sepinwall. Reinforcement schedules and extrapolations to humans from animals in behavioral pharmacology. Federation Proc. 34: 1889–1897, 1975.


Variable Interval Reinforcement Schedule Conditioned Emotional Response Behavioral Pharmacology Sidman Avoidance 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



variable interval


fixed ratio


conditioned emotional response




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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leonard Cook
    • 1
  • Jerry Sepinwall
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Pharmacology, Research DivisionHoffmann-La Roche Inc.NutleyUSA

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