Anatomic and pharmacologic differences between two types of aversive midbrain stimulation

R. Sanford Kiser, Robert M. Lebovitz, Dwight C. German

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Chronic stimulating electrodes were implanted into two separate midbrain sites in rats. One site was the dorsal central gray area (DCG), where electrical stimulation produced frantic, escape-seeking behavior which grossly appeared fear-like and/or pain-like. The other site was in the ventral reticular formation (VRF), where stimulation produced a stereotyped circling response. Stimulation at both sites was aversive in that these animals would bar press for escape in a decremental bar-pressing paradigm. In this paradigm, each bar press decremented the current by five per cent of the initial current level. Following the acquisition of stable baseline decremental bar-pressing performance, animals were given injections of either the serotonin-depleting drug, para-chlorophenylalanine (PCPA), or the catecholamine-depleting drug, alpha-methyl-para-tyrosine (AMPT). Control animals received normal saline. Compared to saline control animals, PCPA-injected DCG-stimulated animals showed a marked change. AMPT-injected VRF-stimulated animals showed a marked decrease in decremental bar pressing, but the DCG-stimulated animals were not affected. These results suggest that escape behavior from electrical stimulation of midbrain sites is mediated by more than one neural system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)331-342
Number of pages12
JournalBrain Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 27 1978

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


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