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Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 1991 Jan;38(1):77-83.

Effects of morphine sulfate on operant behavior in rhesus monkeys.

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  • 1Division of Reproductive and Developmental Toxicology National Center for Toxicological Research, Jefferson, AR 72079.


The acute effects of morphine sulfate were assessed using a battery of complex food-reinforced operant tasks that included temporal response differentiation (TRD, n = 5), delayed matching-to-sample (DMTS, n = 6), progressive ratio (PR, n = 9), incremental repeated acquisition (IRA, n = 9), and conditioned position responding (CPR, n = 7) tasks. Performance in these tasks is thought to depend upon specific brain functions such as time perception (TRD), learning (IRA), short-term memory and attention (DMTS), color and position discrimination (CPR), and motivation to work for food (PR). Morphine sulfate (0.1-5.6 mg/kg IV), given 15 min presession, produced significant dose-dependent decreases in the number of reinforcers obtained in each task. Response accuracy was significantly decreased at doses greater than or equal to 1.0 mg/kg for TRD when compared to saline injections. Accuracy was not consistently affected in any other task in the test battery. Response rates decreased or response latencies increased significantly at doses of 1.0 mg/kg and above for the PR task, at 3.0 mg/kg and above for the IRA and TRD tasks, and only at the highest dose 5.6 mg/kg in the CPR and DMTS tasks. Percent task completed was decreased following doses of 1.0 mg/kg and higher for the IRA, PR and TRD tasks, at doses of 3.0 mg/kg and higher for the DMTS task, and at the high dose of 5.6 mg/kg for the CPR task. These results indicate that in monkeys, the performance of operant tasks designed to model learning ability (IRA), time perception (TRD) and motivation (PR) are more sensitive to the disruptive effects of morphine than is performance in tasks designed to model short-term memory and attention (DMTS). The task which models color and position discrimination (CPR) was the least sensitive to disruption by morphine.

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