Behavioral Pharmacology of Antianxiety Drugs

  • Jerry Sepinwall
  • Leonard Cook


The discovery and introduction of valuable new antianxiety agents into clinical psychotherapeutics within the last 20 years was accompanied by a parallel advance in the development of behavioral pharmacology. Behavioral methodology helped to characterize these new agents. At the same time, the interesting and varied properties of these compounds stimulated the development of more comprehensive behavioral techniques so that possible subtle differences among the compounds could be evaluated. In this chapter, we shall review behavioral studies in animals that may shed light upon the therapeutic actions of benzodiazepines and other antianxiety drugs. Although many pharmacologic techniques have been used to study the central nervous system actions of antianxiety agents, e.g., antagonism of pentylene-tetrazol-induced convulsions or footschock-induced fighting, most of the material to be reviewed will involve operant conditioning techniques. The advantages of operant methods, including the use of animals as their own controls because of the availability of stable baselines in trained animals, have been described previously (Cook and Sepinwall, 1975a,b). Some material will be included, however, to indicate the Value of certain nonoperant behavioral procedures for studying anxiolytic compounds.


Dose Level Squirrel Monkey High Dose Level Multiple Schedule Conflict Behavior 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1978

Authors and Affiliations

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

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