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Neuropsychopharmacology. 2003 Apr;28(4):640-50. Epub 2002 Sep 13.

Amphetamine effects on prepulse inhibition across-species: replication and parametric extension.

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Department of Psychiatry, UCSD School of Medicine, La Jolla, CA 92093-0804, USA.


Despite the similarities of prepulse inhibition (PPI) of the startle reflex and its apparent neural regulation in rodents and humans, it has been difficult to demonstrate cross-species homology in the sensitivity of PPI to pharmacologic challenges. PPI is disrupted in rats by the indirect dopamine (DA) agonist amphetamine, and while studies in humans have suggested similar effects of amphetamine, these effects have been limited to populations characterized by smoking status and specific personality features. In the context of a study assessing the time course of several DA agonist effects on physiological variables, we failed to detect PPI-disruptive effects of amphetamine in a small group of normal males. The present study was designed to reexamine this issue, using a larger sample and a paradigm that should be more sensitive for detecting drug effects. PPI in rats was shown to be disrupted by the highest dose of amphetamine (3.0 mg/kg) at relatively longer prepulse intervals (>30 ms). In humans, between-subject comparisons of placebo (n=15) vs 20 mg amphetamine (n=15) failed to detect significant PPI-disruptive effects of amphetamine, but significant PPI-disruptive effects at short (10-20 ms) prepulse intervals were detected using within-subject analyses of postdrug PPI levels relative to each subject's baseline PPI. Post hoc comparisons failed to detect greater sensitivity to amphetamine among subjects characterized by different personality and physiological traits. Bioactivity of amphetamine was verified by autonomic and subjective changes. These results provide modest support for cross-species homology in the PPI-disruptive effects of amphetamine, but suggest that these effects in humans at the present dose are subtle and may be best detected using within-subject designs and specific stimulus characteristics.

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