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Brain Res. 1995 May 29;681(1-2):23-40.

Impairments and compensatory adjustments in spontaneous movement after unilateral dopamine depletion in rats.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Lethbridge, Alta, Canada.


Rats with unilateral dopamine (DA) depletions (hemi-Parkinson rats) display directional biases in their locomotion in spontaneous and drug induced tests. These biases have been explained as being due either to changed responsiveness to sensory stimulation, changes in motor ability, or to central changes, but as yet their basis is not fully understood. The purpose of the present experiment is to examine the posture of immobility and the posture and strategies of locomotion in rats with unilateral DA depletions. The rats are found to display impairments in their bad limbs (contralateral-to-lesion limbs) in adjusting posture and moving. They compensate by supporting themselves mainly on their good hindlimb, using the bad hindlimb and tail for balance and by disproportionately relying upon their good limbs to turn and to walk. Thus, their center of gravity is shifted to the good side and movement is preferentially directed toward the good side, in part to maintain equilibrium and in part to remove weight from the bad limbs so that they can enter the swing phase of the stepping cycle. It is proposed that the bad limbs may be unable to apply force to adjust posture and produce movement. These results provide a basis for predicting the movements that the animals will use in various situations and they expand the test repertoire this hemi-Parkinson model provides for studying recovery processes after loss of dopamine.

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