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The Social Behaviour of Laboratory Rats and the Action of Chlorpromazine and Other Drugs

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1) Drug effects on the social behaviour of male laboratory rats are described in terms of changes in the occurrence both of the individual elements recognised in their repertoire and of the whole categories into which these fall. Comparison of chlorpromazine in variations of an introduction situation and with several other drugs permitted detailed analysis of its actions. 2) Chlorpromazine at 0.5 to 4 mg/kg, reducing overall activity, particularly reduced tendencies of approach to another rat, Aggression, Mating and Investigation. Flight was increased, both Submission to and especially Escape from the other rat, while Exploration and Maintenance (not primarily social) were rarely affected. The other rat correspondingly showed less Flight and more Exploration and Maintenance, without increasing Aggression. 3) Some of chlorpromazine's effects were less marked in cases where the behaviour of the saline controls might be expected to differ from that in the usual test situation. 4) GK 26, a pethidine derivative, increased Escape at 4 mg/kg, without reducing approach tendencies at a smaller dose. GK 23 seemed to increase Submission. 5) d1-Amphetamine (1 to 5 mg/kg) increased activity and Escape, while reducing Aggression, eating and self-grooming. 6) Benactyzine (0.25 to 4 mg/kg) greatly reduced Aggression and Mating with little or no effect on Flight or activity. 7) Taking these results together, it is considered that chlorpromazine has three distinct actions - to reduce locomotion, to reduce the releasing (but not the orienting) effects of sensory stimuli, and to increase Flight.

Affiliations: 1: Ethology Laboratory, Uffculme Clinic, Birmingham, England


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