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Brain Res. 2012 Jan 11;1431:35-45. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2011.10.027. Epub 2011 Oct 19.

Adolescent rat circadian activity is modulated by psychostimulants.

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Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, The University of Texas Medical School at Houston, 6431 Fannin St., Houston, TX 77030, USA.


Circadian pattern of activity regulates many aspects of mammalian physiology and behavior to particular times of the day by entraining the circadian clocks to external environmental signals. Since circadian rhythms are sensitive to many pharmacological agents, it is important to understand if the repetitive use of psychostimulants such as amphetamine will alter the circadian rhythm behavioral activity pattern. The present study uses male Sprague-Dawley rats to study the long-term effects of amphetamine on the locomotor circadian rhythm activity pattern. Rats were randomly assigned to a testing cage that recorded their locomotor activity nonstop for eleven days using the open field assay, as follows: one day of baseline activity was recorded and then the experimental group was injected with amphetamine (0.6mg/kg) for 6days, no treatment for 3days (i.e., washout days) and then re-challenged with amphetamine for one more day while the control group was treated similarly with saline. The Cosine Curve Statistical Analysis (CCSA) test was used to fit a 24-hour curve to activity pattern. Results indicate that repetitive daily amphetamine injections cause behavioral sensitization and a significant change of circadian rhythm of locomotor activity pattern, and elicit behavioral expectation to receive the drug or expression of withdrawal during the washout days. The results suggest that either changes in circadian rhythm caused sensitization and withdrawal or sensitization and withdrawal caused the change in circadian rhythm activity.

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