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J Mot Behav. 1997 Jun;29(2):99-112. doi: 10.1080/00222899709600825.

Keeping the Body Straight in the Unconstrained Locomotion of Normal and Dopamine-Stimulant-Treated Rats.

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a Department of Zoology George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences , Tel Aviv University.
b Department of Psychology , University of Florida , Gainesville.


During unconstrained locomotor behavior, rats move in and out of a straight posture of the body (including the head). In the present study, the stability of maintaining a straight body was examined in untreated rats and in rats treated with saline (SAL) or with 1 of 3 dopamine stimulants (n = 4 rats per group). The stability of maintaining a straight body can range from very high (with 0.5 mg/kg quinpirole [QUIN]), to high (first half-session with 5 mg/kg (+)-amphetamine [AMPH]), to very low (second half-session with 5 mg/kg AMPH), or can be maintained at a level similar to that observed in untreated rats (with 1.25mg/kg apomorphine [APO]). Stability was assessed by videotaping the rats and, then, by using frame-by-frame analysis, scoring the cumulative proportion of time spent in a straight posture, the frequency of transitions from one hemisphere to the other without being trapped in the midline plane, and the degree of lateral bending during turning and during walking on a curved path. The present study is one in a series identifying key variables that constrain as many degrees of freedom as possible in rat locomotor behavior. The uncovering of such variables is an indispensible step that precedes dynamic systems stability analysis and provides candidates for key variables for the modeling of motor coordination.


amphetamine; apomorphine; locomotion; quinpirole; stereotypies


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